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


Laura said... Reply to comment

I am still praying for you, sweet friend. Wrestling here also.

I am sending Easter greetings of much joy and love!

Kathy S. said... Reply to comment

Praying the Lord will meet you with abundance in your current bareness. When the womb of Hannah was empty it drew her to Jesus, and He blessed her with Samuel. Great prophet of God.

Streams in the wasteland. What might be fruitful from the barren land?

Blessings Julie. Your life is a Psalm, a poem. He will. He will.

Cindy said... Reply to comment

I am still attempting to find the ability to call this season good! Life after Mark is less than happy! Today, in fact, my thoughts wondered to my own end and how soon I could make it happen.

Yet, somehow we all must find hope in Him, His words, His plan, though still unseen!

Believing with you for His perfect plan to be revealed in you and through your life!!

Blessings for a super Resurrection Day!

Rebekah Grace said... Reply to comment

I'm wondering why it takes 12 hours to let me know you wrote a new post. Either glad to see you writing out your wrestling. So many times as I read, my heart lept within me from complete understanding.

I've had my match this week too. He seems quiet in my doubt and fear. Sometimes He is even quiet in my thanksgiving. Have not read since Wednesday morning. Praying, not seeking. Guess it's just a phase.

Had a very unnerving discussion with my mother this week. It sits on me like a lead balloon. Not sure what to do with any of it.

Julie, I have no cliche words or phrases. They don't work. Atleast not for me.

That verse is a good one though. And so fitting. I'm there with you girl. I am.

Tea with Tiffany said... Reply to comment

Sweet Julie,

I am sorry I've been out of the loop with all you've been through. It's hard for me to visit blogs lately, even those I love like yours. I understand the wrestling with God and the desire for a fruitful garden. I will be praying for your family during this time. And I'm thankful I call you my friend. You have a beautiful heart. You are HIS. I'm here for you. You know my number and email. Sending my love, Tiffany

Amy said... Reply to comment


You really captured the essence of walking with Christ here. He never changes. Though our circumstances may be full of pain, His love is always there to encourage us as we press into Him. I pray that this season will be filled with treasured moments of His love radically embracing your heart. I pray that everyday will be filled with grace and encouragement and that His peace with consume your heart.

With much love,

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Dear Julie,
I loved this post.

It has been a while since I visited, but a good post always awaits me each time I drop by.

You have a soft and flexible heart. So responsive, so perceptive.

Never give up.

The story of Jacob and his displaced hip joint is one of my favorites.

I purposely dropped by to greet you a blessed Mother's Day.

You are a treasured blog friend, Julie.

I am praying for you.


Katie said... Reply to comment

I've found myself thinking of you and your family the last few days, Jules. I know life is probably hard right now, but I pray that you are receiving new and amazing revelations of the verse, "Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness."


Customized Essay said... Reply to comment

My appreciation for the great efforts you are doing for your blog.. I hope you keep blogging..