Wrestling with God

Jun 29, 2015

When I am struggling in my life am I wrestling with myself or am I like Jacob wrestling with God? It seems in the spiritual life there is so much to wrestle with. I’ve come to think that each step on the journey takes a serious reworking of the way I think and feel and that it is not easy, even if the Lord is doing the transforming, for a human being like me to let go and to let God. This has been particularly true when I’ve been in major transitions.

One way I think of these periods of wrestling is that it is my human nature struggling with the divine potential in me. Fortunately, with the Lord on my side, the divine in me wins out in the end. But there are surely struggles along the way.

A recent one, for example, is that I am having trouble with my forearms; a doctor recently diagnosed me with tennis elbow and some ulna nerve damage. The tennis elbow has healed, but the ulna problem persists in a burning sensation in both forearms which can wake me in the middle of the night and make it difficult to get back to sleep. And it’s the sleep issue that causes me to struggle. Without a good night’s sleep I am pretty useless. So recently I’ve been taking cat-naps to compensate. So far that’s ok, but I hate not sleeping well, so I am wrestling with that angel all the time it seems about resolving the issue.


I am doing the exercises the doctor gave me and icing my arms. Mostly I’d like the Lord to heal my ulna nerve, because I fear what the long-term consequences might be for a writer like me. Peace is what I keep hearing, and peace, I believe is the way, but trying to adopt that way is what keeps me struggling… I could just let it go….

If I think of myself as part human, part divine(at least potentially), then I think that the wrestling is all on the human side. When I am able to come from a place of peace and love and joy, then there is no wrestling, only acceptance. When I’m on the human side, there is nothing but wrestling. But the funny thing about wrestling is that it’s not like a fight that it’s decided and over with. It goes on and on and on. At least that’s the way my mind works.


The wrestling takes place on the surface of my life, not in the depths. We’re like the waters of the ocean: the waves, the choppiness and all the real action of the ocean takes place in the top 15 feet. Beneath the waves and the storms are long slow currents that seemingly go on forever, untouched by the surface busyness. A tsunami is the only thing that can rile these deeper waters. Our lives are like this too: all the busyness and wrestling is all about the surface of our lives, not the depths. We can live on the surface for years or for our whole lifetime if that is our desire. But when we plumb our depths, there we find peace, a kind of knowing about ourselves, we live in the longer arcs of our lives and thereby we allow our shy souls to emerge from the depths.

The soul is the essence of who we are. Its task is to remind us of the purpose and the agenda for our lives that God build into us at our creation. We each have a set of skills and talents and challenges that were there from the beginning. If we can set aside the surface busyness and all the surface storms of life, there is a whole new way for us to live.


Our souls(and God’s “still, small voice”) have been calling us from our births to pay attention to the deeper self, to delve into its knowing about what really matters to us and how to go about accessing all that knowledge. Our souls, representing our Creator, are our guide and our destination to the fullness of who we were created to be.

I don’t know how you think about the soul, but to me it has two functions: one—to remind us throughout our lives of our own unique purpose and two—to be that part of us through which God speaks, the place within where we can hear that “still, small voice.”[1Kings 19]

If we bring all that surface stuff—the personality and the ego, the busyness and all the angst—under the aegis of the soul where we are unified as one being, then we will live fulfilled, purposeful lives. There we no longer wrestle with God or ourselves. There no longer is a human side and a divine side. We are one.

Questions to ponder over the week: Do you wrestle with yourself or with God? Do you live on the surface of your life or in the peaceful, longer arcs in its depths? Have you plumbed or are you plumbing the depths of who you were created to be? Have you asked the Lord what your next step is?

Blessing for the week: May we be aware of the surface of our lives and the depths of them. May we persevere in accessing our true selves with God’s help. May we be the people we were created to be. May we help bring in the kingdom here on Earth.

If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “Trust in God” ”youtube.com/user/patsadams
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Check out the “Offerings” on the website, bythewaters.net, which shows a CD of guided meditations and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.
If you’d like to read the blog in its entirety, go to bythewaters.net/blog.html.

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