Three+ weeks of Panther camp is in the books. Long, hot sunny days spent with high energy kids who apparently have to go to the bathroom constantly. Ian would know because escorting kids is one of his duties. “I think they’re playing me mom,” he reports. The bathroom visits are never urgent and include lots of horsing around. Military camp, this is not, thank goodness. Regardless, he comes home EXHAUSTED, but happy. Feeling useful can do that for someone. Even though he falls asleep in the car driving home and one backpack and two water bottles are missing, from what I can tell, he’s cutting it. He likes the kids and they like him.
Then …. maybe because I’m glutten for certainty, I did it. I contacted the program director and quipped a brief, grateful things are working out text. And in response, I got an ear full. Dang….not so fast.
Mama Bear Emerged
In that instant… the mama bear was poked. At the risk of sounding disrespectful… it was as if God Himself picked a fight.
After all, the Lord directed us to this opportunity and with it the gift of a hopeful vision for Ian’s future. He would creatively work with kids as a stepping stone to live independently. And now, it feels as if that’s too much to ask.
Out of respect for Ian, I’ll forgo the embarrassing details, but the problems are brain injury related— things like a lack of awareness and appropriateness. While I understand from the school’s perspective, my disappointment has been overwhelming.
Did I somehow mis-read God’s guidance? How do I remain optimistic while having to address such an uncomfortable subject? Is behavior change even possible without shame or a crushed spirit? While struggling and contending with the Lord, I was drawn to the familiar story in Genesis when Jacob wrestled with God. The entire account is found in Genesis 32:22-32.
Jacob had been chosen from birth to receive God’s blessing, but throughout his life he acted as if it was all up to him. We see time after time he depended on his own scheming, wisdom and skills. Jacob was even willing to hurt others to get what he wanted. Ironically, the very thing Jacob was chasing for himself was the same thing God wanted to give him.
It seems as if Jacob was one of those people who had to learn his lesson the hard way. In spite of his obstinance though, God never abandoned him. Instead, God got Jacob’s attention through a strange encounter, a wrestling match. The story climaxes at the moment Jacob was injured. Not until his hip was wrenched, was Jacob receptive to God’s blessing; the blessing he’d been striving to achieve all along.
Genesis 32:25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
Don’t you see it? God is so committed to blessing Jacob, He won’t relent. It’s an example of God’s mercy and how He chased Jacob down. (Psalm 23:6)
I relate to Jacob. I too, can be bull headed. Impatient for my blessing, I try to make things happen in my time, with or without God. Does that ever happen for you?
What do you really need from God right now? Do you need clarity, healing, hope, assurance? What blessing do you want from Him? How badly do you want it?
When God makes us wrestle Him for some blessing, it’s not because He’s reluctant to bless us, even though that’s how it feels. Rather, it’s because He has more blessing for us in the wrestling than without it. As we contend, it’s as if we’re fighting for our faith.
God does show up in the midst of our fear and uncertainty, but not typically how we expect or prefer. Sometimes He shows up looking like our adversary, inciting us to a battle. In my experience, the sweetest and most profound blessings have come after a time of prolonged and even painful wrestling with Him.
Before we discard Jacob as someone NOT to emulate, notice his admirable tenacity. When he did ‘wake-up’, when he finally got it, he wouldn’t let go. Jacob discovered that the wrestling was in fact an avenue for God’s grace, a means for God to bless him.
Genesis 32:26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
God Changes the Way we Walk
Jacob is proof that when we wrestle with God, He changes the way we walk. (Ha! pun intended.) That’s true for us too. When we lean in with expectancy, willing to persevere for God’s blessing, He transforms us in the process. God loves to bless tenacious faith. And when we struggle with God in faith, not only does He strengthens us, but He grants us peace.
News from the director at the Menaul School has felt like yet another invitation to that same ole wrestling match. I get tired of it and want things to be smooth and easy. I long for that big red bow tied around an ideal picture of life. But… God is determined to bless me. And His ways are not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
Thankfully, like Jacob, I call upon a tenacious faith and refuse to let go. Yep, I will cling to the Lord’s pant leg for as long as it takes.
Merciful Father, Thank you for Your relentless intent to bless me. I’m grateful for the example of Jacob, because many days it feels like I have to wrestle you, too. Forgive me for my impatience and my preference for the easy road. Help me to trust you even when I can’t see my way home. I know it will be worth it. Amen.
I’m crying, a good, cleansing cry. My child also had a brain injury and this weeks blog reminds me of the rocky path we’ve walked these past 4 years, progress is slow, but that’s the good news, there’s progress thus giving us hope. Thankful for Ian’s progress. Thankful for your willingness to share your journey.
Marie, I don’t know you… but I see your heart. You are a warrior and your identity is NOT limited to being the parent of your brain injured child. Thanks for your comment. May you have a renewed spring in your step as a beloved child of God.
Anne kole says
Yes, please hang on, Debbie. I’ve never seen anyone persevere like you do! It’s great that Ian wants to be useful and isn’t afraid to try. Whether you see it or not, he is hanging on too! The perseverance I see in you and your family reminds me of God’s faithfulness. He never pushes us away from him but even picks us up in his arms and assures us of his love! You are definitely his daughter. Thanks for your willingness to share and for lifting me up with your blog.
Thank you Anne. You are an encourager, that’s for sure.
Tks Debbie. So many ups and downs in life. So thankful we have the assurance of God. You always hit it on the head. Hugs to you and the family. Dottie
Thank you Dottie. 🙂
I’m in such a different place than you in regards to our children, but oh how I can relate to your ‘wrestling’ with God regarding them! I need to ‘let go’ myself and have faith that God’s got this ‘battle’ ! I’m so weary of this ‘wrestling’!
Thank you for your words and reminder!
He’s got the battle for sure! My wrestling has to do with not feeling certain what to do next. Thankfully He meets us in the heat of our battles, as unique as they are.
Amen! Well said by you both! There is so much comfort in knowing we are not alone😘
One step, one day at a time. Debbie, you will persevere, you always have. It is tough. Hang in there and thank you for your thoughts.
Thank you Kerry. I didn’t mean to make this just about me. We all have stuff to persevere… Just a new understanding of Jacob’s life lesson.
So good! Thank you!
I’m glad you’re encouraged. Thanks
Heidi Shepard says
Thank you Debbie!
Such a wonderful reminder of the unrelenting love of God even when we don’t ‘see’ him. How encouraging to see how the Lord pursues us in this broken world. (My heart really goes out to your family and Ian with these on-going trials.)
Amen Heidi! Good to hear from you friend.
Susan Bartholomew says
Hi Debbie, I have a feeling I am one of many who are blessed by your blog but don’t often comment. You have a way of making God’s word real and applying it to our lives. Thank you for sharing your gift.
Thank you for taking the time today.
Mary Werner says
Yay, Debbie! We all have our battles to fight (wrestle with). As I’ve said before, you articulate so well how wonderful and important it is to have a relationship with God and to be patient snd listen to him. Another wonderful blog! You are always so inspiring. Thank you for your words of wisdom.
I just got off the phone with my cousin in Calif. she has a 36 year old daughter living at home, suffering from cerebral palsy since birth. She was recently diagnosed as bipolar. I’m going to try to forward your message to her. Mary
Thank you Mary. Your cousin is a hero!
Debbie, you have touched me greatly with this story I have read over and over. Here in Pagosa Springs with my life truly beautiful, how can I say I have any thing I want to ask for. But the one thing I have wrestling with and praying for is to find a church family. The only thing I miss still, after two and a half years, is my church family at SPC. I am impatient like you and I tend to take matters into my own hands like you. I plead and beg with God and I must follow your message and continue to hold on, not let go, and no that God is blessing me even now and has plans that are good for me. Thank you again Debbie for sharing some of your struggles in the midst of sharing God’s word with us.
Oh Terri…. thank you. I’m so pleased to hear that you too refuse to let go. I will pray for that blessing. We miss you!