The Righteous Scuffle

I am least-resistance material. Dodge rather than duel. It’s not so much rooted in cowardice as it is in convenience: a fight takes work, and I’d rather acquiesce. The less energy wasted, the better.

And I thought I was so ahead of the game, spiritually-speaking. A perfectly willing soul, ready to go along with anything. Isn’t a subservient follower of Christ the best follower of Christ? I wouldn’t dare be contrary to what I suppose is God’s plan for my life.

(Emphasis on “suppose”.)

My change of mind happened in a small moment, as brief as it takes to conjure a thought. I’d scanned through my task list at work and settled on what needed immediate attention. Meanwhile, dozens more synapses went wild in the background with other “to-do’s” for the day: Did I need any groceries? Would I go clothes shopping this evening or on the weekend? Get some writing done after work like a good girl? Or…hang responsibility and work my thumbs on the 3DS? (These moral dilemmas…)

In the middle of it all, some future-oriented thought wandered its way through the internal noise. I honestly couldn’t tell you now what it was, but I remember it arrested my attention. In knee-jerk fashion, I gave it a pious: “Yea, verily, do as thou wilt with mine life, Father.” That should’ve been the end of it, I figured – when clear as I can explain it to you I heard the words, “Wrestle with me.”

Now, there are certain Biblical stories I don’t necessarily forget; I just assume they’ll never apply to my life. Take Jacob, for example. That heel-grabber wrestled for his name, for a blessing, and for a future (Genesis 32:22-32); but he seemed a persistent sort anyway. I didn’t relate. That sort of supernatural tussle was meant for the aggressive only.

And yet here God had told me: wrestle. Over this small detail I’d rather brush off than face. It caused me at least to wonder if there was more to the fight than just petulance. Could such a brawl really change the mind of Almighty God?

In Jacob’s case, he gained what he insisted be his. Whether God would have given it with or without a fight I can’t say, but here’s the other thing I notice: the scuffle altered Jacob. He was given a physical keepsake to remember that powerfully relational moment. In grappling with another person, we often come away with a deeper understanding of both their character and ours. We’re left with a lasting impression; sometimes a bond grows stronger.

I’d never assumed a holy fight could be God’s work to shape me nearer to Him. Was it really more obedient, in some instances, to wrestle than it was to comply? As it turns out, I may not be as ahead of the game as I suspected.

So, new goal: Enter the ring more often – a type of exercise I never knew I needed. Let it bring changes in both life and soul.

4 thoughts on “The Righteous Scuffle

  1. Probably my favorite thing you’ve ever written. I’m printing it off to keep forever.

    My favorite line, “That heel-grabber wrestled for his name, for a blessing, and for a future..”

    I need to process this more to figure out why exactly this spoke to me so deeply. Maybe because, though I am more aggressive, I am rarely persistent. I start out scrappy but then give up quickly if something is not answered right away because I have figured that God’s answer was no and there’s no point longing for something I can’t have.

    I wonder, like you, if God really does want me to wrestle, and if that “righteous scuffle” isn’t less about insolence and more about a confidence in a Father’s love. I think of the difference in my behavioral and verbal responses to my two parents. My mom, whom I loved more than life itself and who I knew loved me in the same way: I would ask things, question, push and pull- knowing I could because her love for me was deep and unending. My father, who expected strict obedience and whose love for me seemed very conditional and frail- I would ask nothing, say nothing, question nothing.

    I think that, perhaps, I don’t grapple with God because, deep down, I’m afraid that if I do, God’s disapproval will overwhelm his affection for me. And I guess that goes to the root of how strong I believe my Father’s love to be for me, and what I think I have to do to earn it.

    Perhaps wrestling is not disobedience but a deep assured knowledge that God’s love abides. That walked out belief in my life that nothing can separate me from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus.

    Definitely something to ponder this week.

    1. Wow! This really touches me! It’s so funny – As I finished this post I was thinking to myself, “Mreh, I don’t think I’m accurately conveying what I want to say here, but I’ll just publish it anyway.” Every time I feel less than stellar about a post, though, God takes it and makes it speak to someone in ways I couldn’t have even imagined.

      What you said in comparing the relationship you have with your mom to the one you have with your dad really put things in a new perspective for me. It’s true I dodge fights because they’re often more effort than I care to exert, but other times I don’t bother to dispute because I fear the loss of relationship I think will come from such a tussle. As it turns out, there are times when avoiding a disagreement is LESS healthy than maturely approaching it and growing from the experience. Something *I* need to ponder for a while…

      Thank you so much for your added words, dear frehn. Love you!

  2. I don’t think this is what you were going for, but your post made me think of an experienced I had a few years ago. There are some hymns words by Mary Brown that I’ve always loved,
    ” It may not be on the mountain height
    Or over the stormy sea,
    It may not be at the battle’s front
    My Lord will have need of me.
    But if, by a still, small voice he calls
    To paths that I do not know,
    I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
    I’ll go where you want me to go.”

    I think the point is that the Lord’s work is important wherever you are even if it’s not big and grand and a “fight”, but I always took comfort in the fact that it didn’t have to be at the battle’s front. Until I had a few things asked of me and I realized that although the small and “homely” things are just as important, sometimes you are asked to climb a mountain instead. And it’s important to be ready to say yes to that even when you may prefer to stay home and tend to a smaller patch of earth.

    Also, I love the title “heel-grabber.” It makes me think of the type of phrase that sounds like an insult but is said affectionately by close friends and family. “That ol heel grabber. He’s a scrappy fella, but we love him.”

    1. It’s so interesting how people find different things in the same written piece! I think it’s true you need to be responsive to whatever God asks of you – from the simple to the daunting. And sometimes that causes a little bit of a wrestle of its own. 🙂

      And something about your quote using “heel-grabber” will now forever have me associate it with a sort of congenial southern accent.

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