is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is." I love this quote from the book by Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
And this, in relation to a story that she is telling from the Bible. Actually, in adulthood, it's probably become my favorite story in the Bible. It's the story of Jacob. My mom and I have talked many times about this story over the past ten or so years. You see, I was raised in the Southern Baptist way of "never questioning God." But I don't know, truly, if that is even in the Bible? Does anyone know? Grace? Aunt Suzie? Mama? Angel? Can you tell me the Scripture where the Bible tells us not to question? Because in the story, Jacob actually wrestles with God. Some translations say it was an angel, but others say it was God himself. Either way, Jacob grabs hold of God and won't let go. At one point, God touches Jacob in the hip socket, breaks the sinew (the strongest part of him) and tells Jacob to let him go, but still Jacob refuses. Jacob is hurt, badly, and physically exhausted, painful, dirty. Still, he REFUSES to let go of this man. He does not know at the time that the man is God. It's dark, Jacob had laid down to rest before a day he dreaded (he was going to see Esau for the first time since he stole his birth-right.) And he finds himself mysteriously in a physical fight with an unknown man, a man who breaks his hip and demands Jacob let him go. But Jacob refuses! Imagine it, really!?!?! And he tells the man that he will not let go until the man gives Jacob his blessing. As the first rays of light begin to break through, Jacob realizes that he has actually been wrestling with God. He has wrestled with God all night, will walk with a limp for the rest of his life because of his tenacity, but he has received God's blessing... and a new name... and he meets his brother the next day and is able to see the face of God in his brother, even though the day before he was all full of dread for the meeting.
I love this story. Every time I hear it, I am renewed and relieved by it. I think I can most identify with Jacob, of all the people in the Bible. See, Jacob took things that he didn't deserve. Ran from his problems, and in the end, God blessed him and gave him a new name, all because of his unwillingness to let go before he saw God. I have wrestled a few things down with God in my adult life. True, God has been very kind to me, He could have snatched them from my hand, but instead, He gently gave, and generously so. But there were times, like 11 years ago when I had no children, and I literally clawed that blessing from the hand of God. There have been periods of time where I was holding on tightly to God, refusing to let go without the blessing I knew He wanted to give to me. This past year, in particular, has been a very different kind of year in our family. The emotions I have felt this year, with our move, all the questions, all the transitions, all the ups and downs of leaving home for a "foreign" land, have all taken their toll on me. I haven't blogged much since getting here because my emotions have been so raw and so tender that I couldn't seem to put it down on paper. There is so much tied into every decision, every day the emotions swing so wide that it's impossible for me to keep track minute to minute, much less share them with anyone else.
I have said that God gave us bite-sized morsels, hand fed this assignment to us in digestible increments. But there is a toll in temporary living too. The temporary mentality starts to wear on you after a while. It's a lonely feeling. Isolated! But still, I have been able to find real joy in the journey here. I have embraced the "time out" that God has put us in. The sidelines don't look like punishment anymore as much as a much needed time for our heart rates to return to normal after the fast pace we kept in TN. I know that when we return home, we will go back changed. There will be pieces of this place that we take with us forever. There will be days (probably mostly cold winter days) when we wish we were sitting on our lanai in tropical paradise, listening to the wind-chimes in the trade-winds. There will be days when we hear a Jack Johnson song or Bruno Mars and we are taken back to 2011 and we'll wish for the things we take for granted here.... 80 degrees and sunshine.... palm trees sway... ocean waves crashing... beaches in every direction... and nothing but flip-flops for years on end.
We still have no decision on going or staying. We are still debating, every day a new emotion, a difficult turn to make. There is the call of all that is familiar, comfortable, loyal, faithful, and the feeling of needing to "get on with real life." And then there's the selfish side of wanting to keep my children and my husband to myself just a little longer. Not wanting to give up the tropical breezes, my prayer spot where the waves crash over giant black rocks and only surfers and me know about the secret spot. Wanting to remember the days of no real schedules to keep and no long to-do lists. It's all merit, all virtue, all redemptive, but the uncertainty of it, that's the part where I have to hold on to God and refuse... REFUSE to let Him go until He gives me the blessing, one way or the other.
Genesis 32:38 "The man said, "But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it's Israel (God-Wrestler); you've wrestled with God and you've come through."