Wrestling, But Not Alone
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
– Genesis 32:24; KJV
This understanding of themselves as a people who wrestle with God and emerge from that wrestling with both a limp and a blessing informs how Jews engage with Scripture, and it ought to inform how Christians engage Scripture too, for we share a common family of origin, the same spiritual DNA. The biblical scholars I love to read don’t go to the holy text looking for ammunition with which to win an argument or trite truisms with which to escape the day’s sorrows, they go looking for a blessing, a better way of engaging life and the world, and they don’t expect to escape that search unscathed.
― Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
On May 4th, just over a week ago, the Christian world lost one of its most inspiring figures of recent years. Rachel Held Evans was taken from her family and the world at the young age of 37.
For many, the writings and lectures of RHE signaled that it was permissible to wrestle with God. Following in the footsteps of Jacob, her work, both online and in print, conveyed details of her own wrestling matches with her Lord – many through the years – and always filled with passion. Upon her passing, scores of people, Christian insiders and outsiders, told their own stories of how Rachel Held Evans work caused them to explore their own faith more deeply, debate contemporary issues more adamantly, and hold onto Scripture more fervently.
Jocob’s story from Genesis gives permission to God’s people to be wrestlers, staying close to God, and even demanding at times, that God stay close to us. Rachel Held Evans taught multitudes to wrestle as well, not to discard their faith when life is bogged down by complexity and or even despair, but to seek God and God’s word in the midst of a multitude of trials.
I am thankful for the ways RHE shared her willingness to wrestle instead of settle. And I am thankful for the many other saints in my life who have shown me the same.
~Pastor Mike Middaugh