Sunday, 6 August 2017

Wrestling with the future

Decision points in our lives brings on a tremendous pressure which unbalances our outlook.  We only have to look at the statistics with regards stress which point out that moving house, divorce/break up, death in the family and changing jobs are all high stressors.  These all symbolise struggle in our lives as we give up the old comforts and take on new challenges.  Such challenges face our faith journey as well.  These can be as life changing as those which we undertake in the secular world.  We only have to glimpse at the story of Jacob wrestling with "God" on the edge of the creek, Jabbok (Gen 32.22-31).  It is his determination in the end to hold onto the opponent that brings about the change in name to Israel, one who has contended with God and man (Gen 32.28).

In discerning our path both as individuals and as corporate bodies we have to have a certain amount of perseverance.  It is not an easy matter when we are confronted with change that is or appears to be monumental and life changing.  Jacob uses all his human skills to try to ameliorate his brother's 'perceived' attitude towards his return.  Gifts, the splitting up of his forces, the sending away of his close family, etc.  All the ways in which we to try to fend of disaster in our personal lives.  Finally Jacob is left with no option but to confront head on his own fears and faith during the night hours.  Having reached this stage we are at the bottom of our evasive arsenal.  Often what happens is that we give up the struggle and go about our business without having resolved the issues.  In doing so we allow the same issues to become a continuing part of our lives that nag and disrupt the life that we should be living.

Only when we begin to wrestle and discern the way forward do we find God with us.

In wrestling with God and issues of our faith journey we are confronting our most basic uncertainties.  The areas in our life that we (sometimes unknowingly, sometimes knowingly) hand over using avoidance tactics throughout our lives.  In subjecting ourselves to others and their beliefs we abstain from the struggle as being too hard or as being too life changing and fall back into lives that have stagnated.  The one thing that we cannot avoid is that God calls us on a journey.  The implication of this as all who have been on a journey know, the scenery is constantly changing.  We cannot find ease on a journey until we accept the changes that are taking place around us.  Our faith lives are no less so then the lives that we live on a day to day basis, indeed they are significantly intertwined.  No amount of prevarication will prevent the consequences of delayed decision making on our quality of life.

Seminal events such as Jacob's wrestling, ultimately change us, just as Jacob became Israel and limped, so we too will be changed.  The comforts of yesterday are changed by the difference of today.  Too many of us, on both our life and faith journeys, are complacent and wish for the comfort of familiar things.  Joy comes to us only when we begin to look at new things and new ways.  The most complete people I have been friends with are those that have embraced the chances and changes of life.  Those who have wrestled with God throughout their lives, to find the new life into which we are beckoned over our objections and hesitations.  They are the ones forever seeking new paths to be trodden and renewing their lives as they struggle daily with their faith and what it means in today's world.  Bilbo Baggins was dragged kicking and screaming into an adventure that changed his life.  Can we do anything less?  Only when we struggle do we find the answers that we seek.  The fruit of the tree of knowledge came easily, everything else has been a struggle.

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