My daughter Mia made me an afternoon coffee.
I sit here in my room listening to the rain while sipping a brevé cappuccino and reviewing my notes from Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis.
I come to a passage that jumped out at me the first time I read it earlier this year. It’s underlined and has a big star next to it. I feel it’s just as important the second time.
"The rabbis have a metaphor for this wrestling with the text: The story of Jacob wrestling the angel in Genesis 32. He struggles, and it is exhausting and tiring, and in the end his hip is injured. It hurts. And he walks away limping.
Because when you wrestle with the text, you walk away limping.
And some people have no limp, because they haven't wrestled. But the ones limping have had an experience with the living God."
I am not satisfied with what I call "doormat faith". I don’t want to simply lie down and take whatever comes my way. I question, dig deeper, and wrestle with the scriptures and God for understanding, for enlightenment. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who never enters into true, deep, and meaningful discussions with you? We all long for more. Like iron sharpening iron. As Jacob was injured in his wrestling, we may walk away with a limp but stronger, wiser and with a deeper understanding from the wrestling.
Bell also says, “We have to embrace the Bible as the wild, uncensored, passionate account it is of people experiencing the living God. Doubting the one true God. Wrestling with, arguing with, getting angry with, reconciling with, loving, worshipping, thanking, following the one who gives us everything. We cannot tame it. We cannot tone it down."
The Bible is a living story. We are in this story. Our earthly relationships take work just as our relationship with Him does. It takes all these actions to build and develop a truly deep and meaningful relationship. Every time I wrestle with the scriptures and wrestle with God, I walk away with not only a limp but also with a better understanding of Him. I walk away with a knowing that I understand more and am understood. I walk away knowing I love and am loved by the Father. I walk away with more courage that could only have come through the wrestling. The same holds true when I dare to wrestle, go deeply into more intimacy through conversations in my earthly relationships.
It makes me think of Theodore Roosevelt's speech, "The Man in the Arena."
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I would rather be in the arena...”face marred by dust and sweat and blood”. Striving valiantly, screwing up, learning, making mistakes, but at least I am IN the arena making the effort. I choose to wrestle. I would rather risk having a limp than never have stepped foot into the arena. I will boldly take the experience with the living God. I will dive deeply into more meaningful relationships here on earth.
Wrestling makes me vulnerable, but I would rather dare greatly in my vulnerability than never dare at all.