Doesn’t if often feel like we are in an exhausting wrestling match? We wrestle coats on our children and scoot them off to the bus stop. We wrestle with our bank account, stretching it as far as our meager balance will allow. We wrestle with our loved ones, who are often the source of our greatest heartache. We wrestle with the voices inside our heads, asking what path should we take? Or sometimes, how do I get out of this terrible situation.
Lately, Dear Ones, I have been wrestling with God.
My battle is emotional, one that I will not share because it is close to my heart. I will, however, give you a few key words.
Each word triggers something deep inside of me. My mother has bravely battled cancer for many years and it is her ultimate wrestling match that triggers a host of emotions. More than my struggles to raise a teenager; more painful that my concerns about money, and angst as I try to write fifty thousand words in my novel by November 30. I am wrestling with things I cannot control.
Don’t we all?
This week, I mentioned to a friend that “God is preparing me for something I am not yet ready to be prepared for. I am wresting with God.”
But God allows wrestling matches. There’s even a story in the bible about Jacob wrestling with a man (who turns out to be God)
. In this story the man wrestled until daybreak and when the man saw that he could not overpower Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that the hip was wrenched.”(Genesis 32:24).
Each Friday my dear friend Kelle hosts a prayer group at her home from 11:45 until 12:15. Here are the rules:
- Show up
- No prayer requests
- Plug into God for 30 minutes through prayer
- Say Amen and go home
Now before y’all laugh, let me say this group of ladies are the most powerful Godly women I have ever met. As Kelle reminds us, “We need more of Him. Not more of our circumstances.” Kelle reads a scripture, or something that has been laid on her heart. We pray. We hug. We go home.
It’s 11:30 and I’ve been in my writing closet since 9:30. I’m kicking it this Friday, a rarity as Friday’s are mainly devoted to cleaning, laundry, and avoiding the novel in progress like the plague. As I pause from writing, I notice the time, roll my eyes and say in my heart, Ugh. Gotta go pray.
Did you pick up on that? Today. At 11:30, prayer was a burden.
Immediately I said (out loud), “God, look at me. What in the world is wrong with me . . . feeling like it’s a burden to pray. I don’t know what in the world you are going to do with me. Forgive me.
At Kelle’s, the living room is packed. She never knows who is going to show up, it’s a drop-in kind of gig. Some days it is two people. Some days, like today, the room can barely contain us. Kelle’s mom is here, a prayer warrior that lets her daughter lead, but holds onto my hand and pours every bit of anointing she can into my weary-from-wrestlin’ body. I had told Kelle’s mom about my wrestling, about my mom struggles, about knowing that one day I will be forced to prepare for that which I am not yet ready to prepare for.
Alexis opened with a reading from Streams In the Desert. Here is an excerpt: God allowed the crisis in Jacob’s life to totally surround him until he ultimately came to the point of making an earnest and humble appeal to God Himself. That night, he wrestled with God and literally came to the place where he could take hold of Him as never before . . .
Non-believers may roll their eyes, but I certainly didn’t.
Don’t mistake me. I am not saying that God allowed my mother to suffer with ovarian cancer so he could put me in my place or punish any of us. I am saying that the emotional turmoil I have felt this week has placed me in the ring with God.
It’s me and God, in my crying closet.
It’s me, and God.
Not me and my best-friends. Not me and my daughter. Not me and my husband. Not me and my pastor. It is me, and God.
Just like it’s Mom and God.
Just like it’s you and God.
And as the ladies prayed, they didn’t pray for prosperity. Didn’t pray for grace, or mercy. We PRAISED. Praised Him for who He is. Then, we prayed for Him. More of Him. That we would sit still in our crying closet. That we would let go. That we would cry uncle and reach out for more of him.
Because in the scripture, God didn’t pin Jacob to the mat and cram anything down his throat. He could have, but he didn’t. God allows us to wrestle with him, and today I find great joy in a God that would care enough about me to hang onto me even when I want to run into my crying closet and hold up there all by my lonesome. God knows what I need and it is more of him!
Leaving the prayer group, my thoughts were Oh, how the world is so broken! People of the world are wrestling. I would much rather wrestle with God than the world. God will not twist my arm until I cry uncle. He will not break me. Instead, he will reach out and wretch my heart. He will fill my heart with Him.
That dear ones, is what I want for each of you today.
God has a heart for the broken. When our hearts are broken, he hurts too.
He has a heart for you.
For your circumstance.
For your burden.
For your fear.
But most of all, he has a heart for you.
Whether in the crying closet, or the wrestling mat, it’s you and God.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories; True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com