Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Time for Wrestling and A Time for Peace

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Leon Bonnat
The sermon last Sunday was based on the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32.  Jacob refuses to let go until he gets a blessing.  He wrestles for a blessing.  Which stands in stark contrast to the first sentence of the JesusCalling reading for today:  “Sit quietly in My Presence while I bless you.”  In both cases the idea is that we receive from God.  And yet I think I often miss the blessing because I am too busy giving—giving God my list of requests, my list of issues.  Maybe that’s what’s happening in this story:

A journalist was assigned to the Jerusalem bureau of his newspaper. He gets an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. After several weeks he realizes that whenever he looks at the wall he sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously.

The journalist wondered whether there was a publishable story here. He goes down to the wall, introduces himself and says: "You come every day to the wall. What are you praying for?"

The old man replies: "What am I praying for? In the morning I pray for world peace, then I pray for the brotherhood of man. I go home, have a glass of tea, and I come back to the wall to pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth."

The journalist is taken by the old man's sincerity and persistence. "You mean you have been coming to the wall to pray every day for these things?"

The old man nods.

"How long have you been coming to the wall to pray for these things?"

The old man becomes reflective and then replies: "How long? Maybe twenty, twenty-five years."

The amazed journalist finally asks: "How does it feel to come and pray every day for over 20 years for these things?"

"How does it feel?" the old man replies. "It feels like I'm talking to a wall."[1]

Sometimes it does feel like that, but we have to keep on asking anyway.  Jesus encourages us to keep on asking in his story about the persistent widow. (Luke 18)  And I admire the diligence of the man in the story above.  20 years is a long time.

I just wonder if sometimes those lists of requests get in the way.  The chorus of this song has been running in my head for hours https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vzMyIzkyD4 .  “Jesus I don’t want anything coming between us.”   I wonder how much what comes between me and Jesus is myself…me.

I think there is a time for both—a time for wrestling, and a time for being still. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)  How do we know what time it is?  I guess we have to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us on that one.  And remember that underlying all of time is the fact that it all comes from God.  Which is why being still for me is kind of like what happened with Job at the end of all his questioning—he was reminded that God is God and Job is not. (Job 42)

May there always be time to be still and know that he is God.

[1] From http://www.v1fun.com/pages/clean_jokes.htm (accessed August 2, 2014)


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