Mud Wrestling

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on February 11, 2019. You can find it here.)

You know those gentle proddings from Jesus away from one thing and toward another, the kind that easily guide you along life’s journey? Apparently those don’t work on me. Apparently I need the spiritual equivalent of a two-by-four upside the head to get my attention.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in a Jacob season—full-on wrestling God in the mud He created, not releasing my grimy grip until I know I have His blessing. Surprisingly, He wants the same for me, not releasing His own hold on my heart until I know I have His blessing. The trouble is that we’ve got two different ideas of what that blessing looks like. I think it’s a call. He’s convinced it’s Himself.

Spoiler alert: God wins every fight.

I feel I’m at a crossroads for a big decision, that when this mad brawl is finished, I’ll know which way I’m supposed to go to make God happy. Can I just point out that God is already happy with me because of Christ’s finished work on my behalf? Why can’t that be good enough? Why must I insist on adding to that pillar of glory by building mud castles on top of it? “Oh, if only I could figure out what to do next, I could rock this mission—whatever it is—and make You proud, Daddy! I could earn my keep, show You that I’m worth holding onto!”

This pitiful orphan reasoning breaks His heart. God doesn’t need us to earn our keep. He’s held onto us when we least deserved it, with both hands stretched wide for love on a tree. Maybe it’s the utter inability to have anything worth offering that makes me fight so intensely to just “get it right” (which requires knowing what “it” is). So I grab hold of any piece of Him I can get my hands on, not because I love His Person so much, but because I have to wrangle this assignment out of Him somehow. And then the two-by-four comes—I’ve loved the call more than the Caller.

Well, that’ll take the wind out of you. We sit there in the pit, panting, waiting for it to sink in, this overwhelming zeal for a King to be known by an urchin. And suddenly the call doesn’t own my heart. What comes next and doing it properly and everything else slips away in comparison to the fact that the Mighty One who will save keeps lowering Himself down, down, down to be with me.

He longs more for intimacy than He does for productivity. I fall undone once again, and He’s close enough to catch every tear in that beautiful bottle of His. He takes me in His arms and reminds me that He’s the Hero here, so I don’t have to be. If I fight as hard to stay tucked up against His spear-rent side as I did to figure out how to please Him, He’s happy with that fight. And because He wins, I do, too.

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