Wrestling with God’s Word

I’m not a natural athlete. In fact, when I was in High School, my P.E. teacher and I reaching something of a truce one year when he attended the School Awards Ceremony and realised that I was good at every other subject except P.E. So, when I brought in a note saying I couldn’t participate in Cross Country that year due to “weak ankles” (an excuse that now sounds eerily familiar to Donald Trump’s handy “bone spurs”) he was happy to let me sit out for a whole term while my friends had to run around the school block every week.

When it comes to God’s word, in some ways I’ve been an endurance athlete, making it a part of my life for the 20 plus years I’ve been a follower of Jesus. I’ve tried to remain diligent in my reading and study of it in the ups and downs of life, with varying degrees of success. Sure, there have been setbacks, times of struggle, and weeks, perhaps months where God’s word has not be a central part of my daily routine. But I am always drawn back to God and his messages to me in the pages of the Bible. Time after time.

Yet there are many more times when it comes to reading the Bible when I’m more like the person who steps foot in the gym every so often, and when they get there, everything’s done so half-hardheartedly they might as well be sitting out at the cafe, rather than strolling slowly on the treadmill. Have you had those times? Has opening the Bible been something you’ve done out of guilt, compulsion or because you know it’s “good for you”?

One thing I’d never describe myself as is a wrestler – both in real life and when it comes to God’s word.

When I think about wrestling metaphors and the Bible, there’s no greater passage than Genesis 32 when Jacob spends a whole night literally wrestling with God. So transformed is he by the experience that God changes his name to Israel which, we think, means “he struggles with God”.

I can think of times where I’ve wrestled with God in prayer – begging for an outcome to a situation, pleading for a friend, poring out my heart and my hurts. But I can think of seldom few times that I’ve really done the hard yards of agaonising over a passage, pulling it apart, letting its truth cut me to the core to such an extent that my life is radically reoriented.

Perhaps this is a challenge for me, and for this blog, to let God’s word do what it promises to do in Hebrews 4:12

 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

How about you? Are you a wrestler? A Sunday stroller? An endurance runner? Or something else? What is your experience with God’s word in your life? Let me know!

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