Y'all, my early 20's were so scary.
At 21 or so, I was suddenly put in a position with a small platform and I sort of had to create a foundation of who I would be to thousands of strangers when I was still trying to figure out if I was going to stick with my Sports Journalism major or switch to Mass Communications. Life changes and the paralysis of fear is so real. Often, I felt frozen in decision making and wondering if the path I was taking was the right one. Will I get a cool job when I graduate college? Am I going to marry the guy I'm dating? Is God ever going to answer my prayer? Is sin really so bad?
I want to tell you I soared on the wings of eagles as I made life transitions, moving states, making and breaking friendships, dating, etc. but the truth is I often sat in the tension of the unknown and I struggled a lot. Honestly, in many areas I still feel this way, so maybe I should wait a few years to write this, but I guess you and I are just going to ride this wave together. The tension of the unknown is daunting. It feels like practicality has one of your arms and your dreams has the other and they are pulling in total opposite directions.
So, if you may be wrestling with God in the tension of your unknown, I want us to look at Genesis 32:24. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
There is a lot to unpack here, so I'll try to do this efficiently and clearly. First, no clue where this man came from, like many situations or changes in life, you're like, "HELLO WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?! HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?! WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?! NO ONE WARNED ME!" Second, Jacob wrestled and did not give up. It says "for it is daybreak" indicating that this had gone on for quite some time, I assume through the night, which sounds very tiring. It says that the man could not overpower him and I immediately thought of free will here. Jacob chose to wrestle, as we do when we resist God. God gave us our free will and while He can certainly do whatever He wants at the blink of an eye, He allows us to choose our journey which is what paralyzes us in fear. "What if I make the wrong choice? Let me go, for it is daybreak. I don't want this tension, I want to be free and have a clear path set out." Though, as we keep reading, Jacob demands a blessing before he leaves. So, you're telling me that he just used all of his strength to fight against God, then, when he surrenders WITH AN INJURY, He's like, " I'm not going anywhere until you bless me." What a crazy story. When I feel like God and I are wrestling, I usually run away like a dog with it's tail tucked between it's legs, but I aim to be like Jacob who uses all of his strength to get into the hard places with God, getting so close that our sweat meets as our foreheads touch and I am scarred, forever changed and ask the Lord for a blessing because if Jacob can do it, why can't I? You can't wrestle with someone from a foot across the room right? You have to be near to that person, you have to be so close that you are touching. Usually, when I have a tough conversation with the Lord, I come out of it changed, impacted, marked. I may not walk with a limp, but my walk certainly changes physically and spiritually.
I don't know how old Jacob was in this story, but he seems resilient and stubborn, much like I was in my early 20's. There is a lot of history and context surrounding this story that would lead to so many other lessons and parallels, but I just wanted to take this short segment because it feels so much like my early 20's, always wrestling with God, tired of the tension, tired of the unknown, but knowing that God is right there in your struggle and in your heart is the biggest blessing of them all.
So, if you're in the tension of the unknown, you need to know that God is so close to you, you can wrestle with Him if you feel lost. Get close, tune into His voice and know that you can't make a wrong choice if you're in His midst and keeping Him close. The early 20's can be scary, but you'll get through them leaning on the Lord.
I hope when you wrestle with God, you leave with a new walk.