Sunday, I played in our church’s men’s flag football game. And if you read the rules, you might think that the proceedings may have been calm, collected, and free from injury. We all know that when a group of men get together to play sports, the heat of the moment will create contact and more than likely injury.
I had fun. I played hard, and even broke the asthma barrier – that point in exercise when muscle fatigue and pain overcomes the chest pain. And I am paying for that fun afternoon as I write this. Sitting feels ok, until I try to stand up and every muscles protests quite loudly. I feel quite decrepit this morning. But, in a way, it’s a good ache. It’s an ache that reminds me that I am alive and pitted myself against strong men and sharpened myself.
I’ve been thinking about God’s name change for Jacob lately. God changed his name to Israel, saying “You have struggled against men and God and prevailed.” But the actual translation of the name Israel might read better as “God struggles with.” And, in a way, from the moment God called Abraham to today, God has been wrestling with his people to transform them into something greater than just human beings. God is in the business of recreation and transformation, and, clearly, has no problem wrestling with us.
When was the last time your spiritual muscles ached? When was the last time you risked, wrestled with darkness and oppression and poverty? When was the last time you threw yourself in the fray on behalf of a friend or acquaintance? When was the last time you really wrestled with God over an issue, a sin, or a doubt?
I may hurt today, but I understand that Sunday’s exertion will lead to a stronger body and a faster mind. I may feel overwhelmed after a wrestling match with God, but I know that it will lead to blessing and transformation.
May your risks, effort, and struggle be blessed with a good ache in your spiritual muscles and a stronger will to resist evil and do good.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, “US Navy 071201-N-5328N-586″