the pursuit of happy

the when-happy-doesn't-cut-it blog for serious Christians

ashley’s not-quite-so-epic wrestling match

ashley's not-quite-so-epic wrestling matchIn my last entry, I told you we were going to look at the last question Jacob asked of the Man he wrestled with until daybreak. I also warned you of the possibility of encountering your own wrestling match and exhorted you not to let go – under any circumstances!

So guess what happened to me earlier this week?

Exactly. And it was painful! Don’t let anyone kid you into thinking that this wrestling thing is all just figurative language – there is a real soul wrestling that will require something real of us if we are to hold on to the end and see the blessing that the Father would bestow.

Wrestling for Life

For me, the most difficult thing that this “match” required was an intentional choice to refuse to indulge my natural tendency to despair at my failings and my weakness. It forced me to act out my faith that the blood of Messiah has given me everything I need to walk in obedience and holiness.

Have you ever been depressed and rather than going to God, or even just trying to engage in something that will make you happy, you choose instead to put on sad music, rehearse your woes and offenses, and just wallow in the misery of it all? I’ve done it, and I suspect it’s not uncommon to man. The fact is this: it’s not acceptable for disciples of Messiah.

CandlelightIn the blood of Jesus, we’ve been given a Life that conquers death. That doesn’t just mean we get to go to heaven when we die. It means that everything of death in this world should be as a defeated foe under our feet – not something we secretly indulge in when our feelings get hurt. Will we encounter real trouble and sorrow in the world? Of course, but our testimony to the world is a life and a light that cannot be snuffed out by trial and tribulation. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day” (2nd Corinthians 4:16).

That’s easy to preach and hard to live – but it is my faith in that as a reality that pushes me to get beyond my natural inclinations and intentionally throw myself upon the grace that I believe the Father has provided to enable me to be a witness and a testimony of the resurrection Life we see in Jesus. I think walking in that grace has to begin with the humility that we cannot even begin to know or live that kind of life apart from Him.

Lessons from the Wrestling Mat

Humility was a key element of Jacob’s struggle and a key element of mine – not so much that I have it, but that it was challenged at every turn! This is the part of the wrestling that the Father is using to form us into the image of His Son. I’ve only focused on the most difficult part of this week’s struggle (refusing despair and embracing faith), but the Father is rarely working on only one level. There are at least four other lessons that I believe the Father was teaching me this week that I don’t have time to elaborate on in this post, but I want to pass them along in their “bullet form” at least!

  • The Father’s name is more important than mine. My wrestling match made me realize how many of my “woes” stem from me getting offended when I think I’m being misunderstood or misrepresented. That’s called pride and it’s part of what I thought this blog entry would be about – realizing that the Father’s name, nature, and desires must always take priority over ours. Remembering that helps keep us from misrepresenting the Father when little slights like these offend our delicate sensibilities.
  • Agree with your accuser quickly (Matthew 5:25). This is something I hear a lot and that sometimes makes me roll my eyes, but it’s legit. Even if your accuser is the devil or someone you think is acting like the devil, take the high (low) ground and repent of anything you can!
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7). It doesn’t really need an explanation, but I’m just saying that I saw this play out for me and it was pretty awesome.
  • Never let go of the Father. I know I already said this, but it can’t be stated enough. It’s really easy to just stick our head in the sand, declare that all is lost, or give up when things get too ugly or too tough. Don’t run away from the Only One who can make you whole (and, by implication, truly happy).

What are some lessons you’ve learned from your wrestling matches? I’d love to hear!