August 5, 2012

Wrestling with God

Today's message by Pastor Tammy Jo Hallem was great. This was the last of our six-part series on the life of Jacob. This last message was a confirmation of sorts to me, who after struggling over the last weeks and months working in a job that literally wiped me out, has come to terms with my life, and the road ahead.

At work a couple weeks ago, our Vice President gave a message to the division entitled, "The Road Behind or the Road Ahead." It was a state of the division sort of presentation, a way for her to bring everyone up to date on what the status is for the company, the results and outcomes of the previous quarter, etc. You know, a "here is where we are, and here is where we should be" type of message. Afterwards, the managers asked all their staff to give a quick summary on what they thought the "nuts and bolts of the message" was and then to share that anonymously with upper management. I didn't do it, not so much because I didn't want to do it, but rather because I forgot that it was due (absentminded me!)

Well, I got feedback from some of my team members and they pretty much agreed with my feeling that the sentiment was "be happy you have a job, work harder, and hopefully things will get better." The point being that you can either work harder or find another job.

In light of the message today, I started to think about my views on working harder, and on what I have been struggling with (wrestling with) these past few months. I have blogged here before, but to recap briefly, I am on Manager #4 (still unnamed) in less than seven months. Moreover, besides the people being walked out the door, many managers and staff have left for other positions elsewhere. This being said, the environment at work is pallid at best. It is a daily grind, and it is getting harder and harder to maintain a good attitude. The prevailing wind is pressing down asking for more and more, but without any assurance of security. I already work hard, and after one year of really giving it my best, I have decided to resign (hopefully by the week's end).

Back to my point about today's sermon -- Tammy made a statement that stuck with me. She said that sometimes God allows certain struggles to come into our lives so that we surrender to God's control. In the case of Jacob, this was certainly true. Jacob suffered a life-long injury due to his wrestling with God (Gen. 32:22-26). He was changed by his face to face encounter with the Living God, and he never ever was the same. He became Israel after this point, and he took on the role of patriarch of the twelve tribes. A big promotion from the little guy who hid out in the garden, afraid of his older hunter brother. Yes, Jacob, the supplanter, the trickster, became one of the Great Patriarchs over the nation Israel.

I thought about my life, and especially my recent afflictions. I know that I have a hip/thigh injury, sustained during my time at Macy's, that simply will not heal. It is something I have prayed about, and I know that it is something I will have to live with as a reminder of my willfulness and stubbornness when it comes to doing things my own way. God has chosen not to remove this affliction from me, and I have had to learn how to live with it.  As a result, I am very sensitive to pain in that area, and I struggle with not making decisions that could adversely harm me. In short, I am afraid to make choices that might hurt me in the long run.

I have considered my job, my daily work, and in thinking about moving to another company, I have been unwilling to do what the Lord was asking me to do. Too many times now He has asked me if I was ready to move. I said yes, but then nothing happened. He told me to be prepared and I said OK, and then did nothing. I have sat here wrestling with God, crying out in pain, and suffering the mental anguish of a boring and dead-end job all because I was unwilling to go and follow where the Lord was leading me to go.

I made the decision today to go. He has said to me repeatedly, "Go," and yet, I stayed put. I didn't go. Now, granted, I wasn't really sure where I was to go, and I was confused about the going part. Yet, the Lord gave me the "go" and I didn't do anything with it. I stubbornly refused to go and allow the Lord to grow me up simply because I was afraid of making a mistake. Yes, the truth and the hard light is that I was afraid of going because of the past (that road behind) that was littered with mistakes and poor choices. The road ahead is filled with potholes, I am sure; but sitting still and not moving forward and hoping to go backwards will never get you to where the Lord wants you to be. Enough said on that point.

Today is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

Yes, today is the day the Lord is calling me to surrender to my fear, to let go of my worries and doubts, and to trust Him to provide a new way for me. I am to walk out in boldness, and to not look  back. I am to follow after Him, to rely upon Him, and to wait for Him to provide all my needs. He has supplied all my needs through the riches and glory of Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). I am well, I am good, and my God has provided a new way for me this day.

May God be praised forever more through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

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