Thursday, November 01, 2007


Jacob wrestles with the angel. He is across the river from his wives and people. Some don't notice. Some gawp. Some feel the separation. One or two pray for him. One or two are embarrassed.

He is by himself with God, but not alone. Never so solitary and never so supported. Afraid and loved. He will now always bear the mark of this encounter in his body and in his naming. People will call him differently because of this struggle. (Though few - that day to this - will comprehend what went on or why.)

I am preaching regularly about commitment; about the God who calls and supplies the needs of the ones ones he calls; about the blessing of a pure and a whole heart. And as I speak the Lord tells me words I need to hear.

I do not prepare sermons for my own benefit, but I hear them.

For I am wrestling. Why? I know God is good and his ways are best. I am not fighting him; I am fighting that my life be his in every part, with integrity and honesty and without exception. That my worship not be a matter of words and music alone but of deeper harmony of life and soul and bone and marrow.

I find myself often to be basically Christian, and I do not find that to be enough. So I am wrestling. And it is lonely. And it hurts. And it is confusing. And I am not sure I always prevail. I feel like Jacob, struggling across a river from my friends, who probably have no idea how I feel or why.

I don't know why I feel this way either. But with God's help, I'm not giving in.


Ricky Carvel said...

"I find myself often to be basically Christian"

If we're doing it right, I'm not sure there can be anything 'basic' about being a Christian. Basically being part of the greatest plan ever planned? Basically having the actual Spirit of God living inside you? Basically being adopted into the family of God? Nothing basic about any of this. However...

I'm currently going through one of my 'there must be more to life that this?' phases. It happens to me every couple of years when I find myself doing the routine (basic?) stuff and I end up considering what the point of it all is. Having been through this before, I know that I'll come out of this eventually with a new (or clearer) vision of the little bit of Gods plan that I'm in at the moment, and occasionally, just occasionally, I get a glimpse of the big picture. But in order to get there I do need to wrestle (and doubt?). With myself, with my preconceptions, with my unstated assumptions and, yes, with God and his word. Its only by wrestling with these things that you get to see past the basics and into the next stage.

And yes its lonely. Some things you have to go through alone. But remember what happened to Jesus at the end of the 40 days in the wilderness... the angels came.

Ricky Carvel said...

Oh. And I forgot to add...

For some reason when I read this post I was reminded of a story about D.L. Moody.

His friend Henry Varley once said this to him: "It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him."

And Moody's (internal) response was "I will be that man!"

Somehow I kind of feel that Jacob hobbled away from his encounter with the wrestling angel with enough resolve to echo that sentiment. Maybe you need to wrestle so you can come away from it (hobbling?) but fired up to be wholly given up to God?

Or maybe that's just a rambling thought. Feel free to ignore it if its not for you.

Marcus G said...

Thanks Ricky.

Your last thought there is particularly beautiful.

Marcus G said...

The one about the angels, I mean! I'm not sure I find the picture of me hobbling beautiful...

ornamentalsheep said...

I'm fairly sure you would hobble more than competently.

And even with a limp, it's possible to run the race in such a way as to get the prize. And, knowing you the little bit that I do, the regular diligent training that you put in will serve you well.

I seem to recall a certain Mr Rooney going through a 'dry spell' not that long ago, and it came across as if he was having a bit of a struggle with himself. The end of that spell came, sure enough, and doubtless after scoring plenty in training. He would probably claim that those didn't count, but unless you can get it right off the pitch, you're unlikely to get it right on it.

I think you said something similar to me once.

I'm sure the dislocated hip (or whatever) will stregthen you.

Marcus G said...

Thanks for the encouraging words - and a plethora of metaphors waiting to be mixed! Wrestling, running, scoring, training, on the pitch and off. You should be a preacher.

I am touched by your confidence, but reality and hagiography don't feel like close friends.

The battle is the Lord's, and his is the victory; but where I am fighting defeat actually feels like a possibility from time to time, which is what makes it a fight.

And you are right to say it is the training and the private preparation that equips for these times - not because you go "oh yes, this technique is what I must use now", or "song 73 would be perfect to carry me through this situation", but because the work-out you do each day builds up your body for the fight. In the end, you just are who you are.

Perhaps it is in the struggle that who we are is most clearly revealed to us?

And day by day, the Lord throws out rays of hope and light, helping me and answering the cries of those watching and praying, and I don't think there are easy answers - or cheap victories - but these last days have been better.

Thank you.