This is a repost from my original blog written on 10/14/2012
From Genesis 32:
“24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with human beings and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
In a strange turn of events, the frustration that seemed to pull me away from grace is the same thing that seems to be driving me back to the cross.
I’ve been struggling with God. Wrestling ‘till day has finally broken. My stubbornness, my arrogance, my pride refused to let grace prevail over my sinfulness. So God, in His infinite mercy, has given me a limp.
I am walking with a limp. A thorn in my side.
Because I’d rather have learned my lessons well and present myself as wiser, more mature, having beaten my issues and I no longer have to struggle because I’m that good now. I want consistency. I want to put meaning to my past struggles. I want to win.
But like a deep, puss-filled, infected wound, one treatment isn’t enough. I require repeated disinfecting and cleaning. Because if it were as easy as I wanted it to be, I would start walking without Him. I would need community less and less. Because some part of me still believes that I can achieve some sort of holiness on my own. Without really realizing it, I act like all His sacrifice, pain, and suffering endured on the Cross falls short of the atonement necessary to cover my sin. So, in part, I need to save myself.
I mean, that’s what we were brought up to believe right? If you work hard enough, you can have it all. You aren’t just given things without working for it. You get what you put in.
I’m a lot like Jacob. Worried that God won’t do what He has already promised to me. So I tried to take matters into my own hands. I tried to secure His promises with my own hands. I tried to learn my lessons well so that there would be no next time. Tried to force letting grace work in my life because I know it ought to instead of actually experiencing Christ.
My walk is anything but perfect. Anything but polished. It’s rough. There are ups and downs. Yet part of me stubbornly still wants to seem better than I am.
“It is very easy to forgive others for their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.”
At last, I cannot hide my limp.
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England. It was customary back then for royalty, when having a portrait painted of them, to have it done in the best possible light, omitting much of their physical flaws. Contrary to this, Cromwell asked to have his portrait painted, “warts and all”.
Friends, here I am. Warts and all. I have wrestled with God. I am wrestling with God. And in my struggle, have been given a limp.
It’s a limp that reminds me of my arrogance. Reminds me of my inadequacy.
A limp that disables me from going too far on my own. A limp that forces me, mid-struggle, to cling tighter to the One I wrestle with.
The wrestle is exhausting. The stubbornness and arrogance that had seemed to prevent Grace from prevailing turns out to have never stood a chance against one single touch from the almighty.
And just like that I am rendered powerless, helplessly grasping on to Him.
“I will not let you go ‘till you bless me”
Hallelujah for my limp. Hallelujah for He is patient through my rebellion and struggling, only to win me over in His timing.
Hallelujah, I will not let You go.
Hallelujah, He never lets go.
It was a late, hot, and humid night during my summer as an intern with InterVarsity’s Urban Project in St. Louis. I was in the kitchen when our director, Gerry, (a man who became like a spiritual father to me) stepped in.
Gerry is naturally very fatherly to many people. He asked me how things were going. I had sort of a traumatic experience at the start of the internship and had wanted to quit the experience afterwards but chose to stay. We talked for a bit on how I was doing since then.
He got to talking about how his affections for us interns were of that of a father and sharing about his favorite moments with his own biological daughter. Throughout his eldest daughter’s childhood, he cherished the times when he just got to “hold her awhile”. Gerry said even on her wedding day, he asked to hold her for awhile before he gave his baby away. He put his arm around me and gave me his signature sloppy, wet, stubbly kiss on the forehead. “I’d like to just hold you awhile, if that’s ok” he said to me.
I treasure Gerry’s relationship with me. My father was never physically affectionate nor have we ever had a close relationship. So the way I relate to male authority figures is a bit strange and Gerry’s handling of our relationship should’ve (at least I would’ve expected) been uncomfortable to me but that night, I just felt like a truly cherished daughter. I’ll never forget that night… wasting time with my “Dad” and letting him hold me for awhile.
“When was the last time you wasted time with God?” -Calisto Odede at Urbana 2012
When was the last time I wasted time letting God’s presence hold me for awhile?
It’s a thing that I have to choose into. That kind of intimacy, security, and safety I found under Gerry’s arm that night is something I’ve yet to really get used to. But I’m thankful for the tangible taste it gave me of the unconditional loving embrace of our Heavenly Father. And the good news is our Abba Father is always asking, “If it’s alright with you, I’d like to hold you awhile.”
It might sound counter-intuitive but it’s hard to say yes to sometimes. Unfortunately, I think that’s the case for many of us who’ve never felt truly cherished. It’s scary. It doesn’t come as natural to us. But could I encourage you today, as I encourage myself, let Him hold you awhile tonight.