Sunday, December 31, 2006

Grappling with God

I genuinely feel positive about the coming year, a lot of the obstacles in my life will fall away next year. It's been kind of like a race where I've started several hundred yards behind everyone else... and 2007 will see me cross the start line!

However, there is one thing that genuinely scares me. I have this feeling that at some point early in 2007, God is going to "call me out".

Over the past few days I have been very worried about a couple of things, which were leading me to feeling trapped and made me fear I was being sent down a road I did not wish to travel. I worried that I might have no choice or as a dear friend of mine once put it, that my only choice might be "eat the poo or don't eat the poo." Basically take what you don't want or go hungry. In the end it was just paranoia and nothing came of it... but I had been so depressed by the concept that I had sat up in prayer for an hour in the middle of the night, voicing my anger and my distress.

I've lately been thinking about the passage in Genesis where Jacob physically wrestles God... actually thinking doesn't nearly describe it, I've been obsessing over it. I've read it a couple of times and I've printed off three different sermons from the Internet concerning it, in the hope of discovering what the personal relevance is for me at this time.

Jacob seemed to be trapped between a rock and a hard place. He was uncomfortable with going forward and he couldn't turn back. He was in such a state, he divided his family, servants and belongings into two groups and sat alone on the banks of the river Jabbok, meditating and praying. God knew what was required and instead of patting him on the back and saying "don't worry Jacob it'll be OK", he materialises in physical form, not far from where Jacob was praying. With no distractions, it's just Jacob and God... so what does Jacob do? He decides to lay the smack down on God.

Not a good plan!

One thing I have in common with Jacob is my tenacity and stubborn nature... I don't give in easily. Jacob was never going to win, but he sure wasn't going to quit. God throws Jacob's leg out of whack to shorten the conflict... and that was the moment of epiphany. Jacob was fighting God for a blessing... but all of a sudden, he was no longer trying to beat it out of God... he was holding onto God in desperation. If he let go, God could have left and not blessed him.

God did bless Jacob in the end, actually he had always blessed him, but from now on Jacob realised that he was dependent on God's blessing and embraced him.

People fear God's sovereignty because they foolishly try to understand it in human terms. If a mortal man were to get absolute power, it would corrupt him absolutely. God is not bound to the same curse as us. You could argue that God was being selfish and unfair by doing what he did to Jacob... but ultimately that encounter benefited Jacob and the whole of humanity. What is good for God in the long run is good for us. Or as the writer of Hebrews put it so eloquently:

"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

I have the feeling I'm going to have my nuts busted by God at some point early in the new year... but on the whole I think that'll probably be a good thing. Something I think I really need to learn, is that God's plan for me isn't just a yoke. He isn't just going to lead me into relationships that i have to tolerate... he's going to lead me into green pasture, people and things I can delight in... because ultimately I'm going to need those blessings to help sustain me later on.

To close with, I've embedded the video tribute to Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down", something for us all to think about there I think...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:47 pm

    Interesting post (I just came to your site through Technorati, BTW).

    It's odd that we really don't trust God very much.

    God tries to lead us somewhere and we KNOW that He has our best interests at heart but, somehow, we don't trust Him.

    It's also interesting that when we finally give in and go where He's leading, we always find that it is good and wonder why we ever resisted in the first place.... and then we resist the next time He leads us somewhere.

    My advice, jump in with both feet. If God is calling, it would be foolish not to answer!

    God bless,



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