Why do I choose the image of limping to describe the walk and the journey I am committing to?

Wrestling with God

The simple answer is that it refers to a story from Genesis (32:22-32) where Jacob physically wrestles all night long with God and leaves the encounter with a limp. I myself have never had such a wrestling match. Not physically anyway.

I do, however, have questions. Many many questions. Some are big and have dominated my thoughts for a number of years, while some are less significant and have only been a recent thing. All of them matter to me to some degree or another. My understanding of God’s revelation to us of Himself in scripture is not one which leads me to think that questions – even doubts – are wrong or that we are asked to leave them at the door. Rather I believe God invites us to bring our doubts and questions with us, and wrestle with them.

I believe God invites us to wrestle with Him.

There are parts of the Bible I do not understand. There are things about churches and Christians I don’t get. The world confuses me. Sometimes these confusions take me to the point of feeling as though there couldn’t possibly be an answer or a reason.

And that’s where the limping comes in.

Because it would be possible – perhaps easy (maybe even easier?) – to win that wrestling match. Not in any real sense. I’m no match for God. But in my theology, my thinking and my walk through life I could choose to say, “I can’t see how that part of the Bible makes sense, so it must not,” or “If God really is good, he would surely do this and since he hasn’t, he can’t be completely good all the time.” These are things I have chosen not to say.

And so, like Jacob leaving with a limp after being touched by God in the hip, I choose to wrestle as I am invited to, but to submit to God’s touch (in my mind, heart, attitudes, choices…) and limp in any area of my life I need to.

This blog is about the wrestling, and the limping.

I said ‘wrestling’, not ‘chess’

I have a tendency, though. I make things academic, abstract, easier to handle because they are a theory not a deep-seated reality. In the past I would speak of wrestling with an issue, but it would be more like playing chess with that issue – very composed, safe and rational.

Jacob didn’t play chess with God, though. He wrestled. It is visceral, just as visceral as Thomas’s desire to put his fingers into Jesus’ wounds. I may not always be weeping over my keyboard as I come to this blog, but I am going to remember that my commitment is to wrestle, to struggle, not artificially but authentically.

If an issue or idea is worth thinking about, it is worth thinking and wrestling with properly. So I will try my very best not to slip into the abstract, the vague, or the intellectual at the expense of the real, the practical and the personal.

And the test should be this: If I’ve managed, I will be limping.

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