Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Mat Again©

A memory floods my mind today. It was June 2002. It had never happened to me before, nor has it happened to me since. I was awakened from a deep sleep with a sharp pain in my hip. I didn't think much about it. It wasn't enough to disturb my return to a solid sleep. I don't know how much time passed. Suddenly I was re-awakened with the same sharp pain. This time my mind was flooded with a story I'd heard dozens of times. Jacob wrestled with God until God dislocated Jacob's hip overcoming him.

There must be some meaning to it all, I remember thinking. After all I'm not one to wake in the middle of the night with a Bible story on my mind. I put it aside to contemplate the next day. I visited the story in the pages of Genesis and discovered something.

I wrestle with God, frequently.

Sometimes life takes over. Things look much different then I expected them to. Longings I thought would be fulfilled aren't. Doors I believed would open slam shut. Some days life feels more like a constant battlefield than a valley of life. Lost jobs, family struggles, uncertainties, dead-end relationships find their way into my everyday life. The question lurks in the corridors of my mind. Do I really believe God is good?

I find myself there frequently these days. It doesn't take much with all that's going on in my world. Walking out into my garden to assess the growth of the seeds I had planted exposed the battle this time. What could be so wrong in having the garden I desired?

I was so excited to start a spring garden. It was my first time growing things like lettuce, carrots, beets, and spinach. With each seed I planted I prayed for God's bountiful blessing. Why is it now a month later I'm looking at empty soil? Was it too much to ask?

My faith is being challenged in mammoth proportions these days. What will I believe? Does God really have something good on the other side of this job loss? It's hard to reconcile it all when little things like prayed over gardens don't grow.

I find myself back on that mat with God. What does it mean that you long to give us the desires of our heart? Can you explain what you meant when you said that you love to give your children good gifts? Can I have any desires fulfilled? What's real here? What's true? When I don't understand these "unexplainable" things , can I really call good what God calls good?

It's a life or death question for me at a time like this.

I wrestled. I cried. I exposed the rants of my heart.... disappointment, fears and pain made their way up and out. The job David just lost had brought us to this little town. We had such high hopes for deep community and friendship here. Sadly, It didn't happen. I had continued to believe that somehow good was going on behind the scenes... But now, this.. Do I have to give up having a garden too? Lurking behind it all was the age old culprit with the age old question. I am afraid. Can I really trust the heart of God? Will I call good what He calls good even when it does not feel good?

There is no other question to be answered by my soul. Would I allow the things happening around me to tell me the story of God's heart, His love, His care?

He wrestled with me until my mind could grasp my reality.

As much as I long for these desires to be fulfilled they can never prove His goodness to me. It is proven in His character, His life. He is unpredictable in what He does, yet consistent in who He is. I will never be able to put my trust in what I see Him doing. My only salvation is to trust in who He is. In that moment, the power of the Spirit overcame the power of my flesh. In that vital moment a choice was made as a cry erupted from within the walls of my heart.

"I will call good what He calls good, so help me God."

Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold. And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19
©copyrighted: 2011; Julie L. Todd