This wasn’t clean, refined, Greco-Roman style wrestling, and I used every dirty trick I knew to win. At stake: the title deed to my future.
In my 20s my flesh empowered me. I circled and feinted, feeling adequate for the match. I acknowledged my rival’s hand-to-hand competence (revealed in his manual), but foolish youth—surging like adrenaline—flushed away all fear.
Clinch, throw…grapple, seize and wrench to invite painful surrender…
My tactics to overcome him amused my calm opponent, and he even let me catch my breath sometimes! That’s when anger ruined technique, and my skill contorted to all out flailing.
By my 30th round, my rage morphed to confusion, and I questioned my wisdom in challenging this Serene Combatant. Not a single fleshly maneuver prevailed, and my burning muscles felt heavy, the power in my limbs nearly spent.
I could give up, but what about my dreams? He would own them all. I knew what submitting to Emmanuel meant—so I fought on.
Well after my 40th bout I dug deep, and with all the force in me I slipped his submission hold! My flesh exulted as I gained a fulfilling second wind, and I enfolded him in the dirt. But my triumph was short lived.
“Jacob’s joint” snapped.
A searing pain in my hip baptized my wits blood red. I locked weary arms around my Serene Combatant’s waist—body and mind completely undone.
“I have nothing left,” I whispered. “You own my dreams; you own me. I give up, Lord.”
And Jesus carried me like a lamb to the edge of a quiet brook, battered and bruised, where he granted me his blessing and rest.
I found that submission to God means service, not servitude, and today a painful limp reminds me of the absurd struggle to steer my own Christian destiny. In my naïveté I grappled with the Creator of the Universe, and now his victory is sweet to us both.
And whenever he notices my unruly flesh hungering for combat again, Jesus always smiles.
“Another go?” he asks.
Unconsciously I shift my weight to feel the ache of Jacob’s joint—and I smile too.
“No thanks, Lord. Never again.”
(Genesis 32:24-32 The story of Jacob wrestling with God)