By Audrey Guerne
One of my favorite pastimes as a child was wrestling. This might be unusual for the typical little girl, but my childhood role models included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, the fictional MacGyver, and of course Hulk Hogan. I would often harass one of my older brothers until he wrestled me on the family room floor.
Until one of us got hurt, that is, and it was always me. With brothers three and five years older than me, size and experience were not on my side. But after a couple of days, the rug burns and bruises would dissipate, and I’d go back for more. My mother warned me over and over, saying, “You always end up getting hurt.” She was right, but apparently I found the exhilaration of the challenge worth the fight.
My childhood wrestling matches ended when puberty hit. It just got awkward. Then, several years later, I didn’t mind that awkwardness when my future husband attempted to tickle me. His flirtatious underarm tickle was met with a WCW wrestling match. He had grown up with two sisters and was raised to never harm a female, so threats of a knock-down-drag-out fight from his girlfriend took him by surprise. Still, he stepped up to the challenge and quickly learned my rules of the fight: no hitting, kicking, biting, scratching, or hair pulling…unless I’m losing. Then all rules are thrown out of the arena. In the first few months of our marriage, our playful wrestling served us well as the physical contact led to more physical contact. The wrestling ended when pregnancy began.
The story of Jacob wrestling with God intrigues me because of my love of wrestling. In Genesis 32, Jacob got wind that his older brother Esau was coming for him with four hundred men. He had tricked Esau out of his birthright, and Jacob feared for his life. The night before the dreaded attack, a strange man started wrestling him. They wrestled all night long! When the sun started coming up, the man told him to let him go. When Jacob refused, the man simply touched his hip, putting it out of socket, and again told Jacob to let him go. But dislocated hip and all, Jacob again refused, saying, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26 NIV).
Sometime during the fight, Jacob had realized he wasn’t wrestling an ordinary man, but God himself. This match wasn’t between two people with an age gap; this was the creator of the universe versus his creation. Jacob knew he was no match, but in his puny human strength he was going to give it all he had. God rewarded him for his fight and blessed him. In the morning Jacob was physically exhausted, but his faith was stronger than ever. Ready or not, he was about to meet his brother. Under the Lord’s blessing, instead of being met with the anticipated sword, Jacob received a brotherly hug. God had also left Jacob with a limp, which served as a reminder that in his weakness God is stronger.
Do you ever feel as though you are wrestling with God? I do! I want God to bless me. After all, if I do everything as if unto the Lord, why wouldn’t he bless me? Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (NIV).
I heed these words and pray boldly,
Heavenly Father, I know these are not biblical times and I’m certainly not Jewish, but I’ve been adopted into your family and I’m requesting your blessing. I’m not the firstborn son; I’m not even a son, but you love me just the same, so please bless me. I am limited in my gifts and abilities, but you are the one who gives them, so bless them. I am fighting for your kingdom, so strengthen me. You are the definition of love, so make me more loving. You put me here on earth, so use me for your glory.
Certainly most of our wrestling matches are not with or even from God, but he can use every trial and match for his glory. He uses the hard times to grow us in our faith. We might come out with a limp, but the faith we have gained from the match will be worth the fight. Keep going back for more.
Audrey Guerne’s sanctification is in overdrive thanks to her three young children ages 4, 3, and 1. She and her husband of six years are working out their salvation with fear, trembling, and laughter. In her writing, Audrey preaches to herself and invites others to learn from her mistakes and be pointed to the cross. She can be found under the handle Peanut Butter Waffle Mom at audreyguerne.wordpress.com.
Photograph © Diana Simumpande, used with permission