Monday, October 27, 2014

Wrestling with God without breaking the furniture

I have a mug that sits on the table in our office that I received for my birthday.  It has a bunch of pictures of the kids and I, and on the other side it has nice things the kids wanted to say to me on my birthday.  One always sticks out and makes me smile:

"I love my papa because he wrestles with me."

These cute little humans are sometimes so easily pleased.  As long as I'm willing to get down on the floor with them, growl like a bear or snarl like a pirate, throw a few elbow drops, and execute a few perfect body-slams they are just as content and as loved as they could possibly be.  No wonder Jesus loved little children.

I mention this because I think recently Melissa and I can relate quite a bit to the sentiment of our kids.

As long as you will wrestle with us, God, we will love you.

And wrestle we have.  We have wrestled with God about calling, pain, hurt, and abandonment.  We have struggled with him over why he does the things he does.  We have wondered aloud if he is even there, and if so, does he even care?

In many ways, we've felt as though we're going through a fire that is burning off our naiveté and growing in us a deeper and richer and more profound understanding of our Lord.  The wrestling is making us stronger.  And wiser.

But it's tough when we're in the middle of the wrestling.  My kids know that every now and then somebody inadvertently kicks too hard, or gets an errant elbow to the chin, or accidentally gets bounced off the couch into the coffee-table.

The analogy carries to the Lord in this case as well.  Wrestling with God can be a dangerous business--not because he is dangerous or will hurt us, but because it tends to dig up in us the types of things that really can be painful.  Things like our own selfish hearts, our entitlement, our demands for things to go the way we would want tend to surface when wrestling with God.  Not to mention our complaint and aversion to difficulty (we are Americans after all, ha!), our fear of failure and meaninglessness, and our doubt and skepticism.

We are being made stronger indeed, and the manner in which we are growing is somehow fun and life-giving and dangerous, difficult, and exhausting all at the same time.
If the Psalms teach anything, it's that this honest wrestling with God is a very good and healthy thing indeed.  The sheer amount of lament Psalms in the book gives credence to this reality.
I have one subtle suggestion, though, before you dive into your own wrestling. Please consider the difference between wrestling with God and wrestling about God.  That difference is massive, and it marks out the difference between Christ followers and outsiders.
What does wrestling with God look like for you?  What would hold you back from entering into the fray?  

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