Fighting with God
Do you remember Lieutenant Dan from the movie Forrest Gump?
He and Forrest were trying to catch shrimp once – catching none at all! – when Lieutenant Dan challenges Forrest, “Where’s this God of yours?”
As Forrest himself tells the story, he says, “It’s funny Lieutenant Dan said that. ‘Cause right then God showed up.” That’s when a hurricane hit their boat, whipping them back and forth in a storm. As the water pounds the little ship, Lieutenant Dan is strapped to the mast of the ship screaming out at God. The scene is a showdown between Lt. Dan and God Almighty. It seems that God came to pick a fight with Lt. Dan. (You can watch the clip by clicking here.)
The biblical version of Lt. Dan vs. God would be the story of Jacob vs. God in the book of Genesis chapter 32. It is another story of God picking a fight. This time God picks a fight with Jacob. In fact, God and Jacob fight and wrestle for hours. (You can read this story by clicking here.)
It’s a strange thought, isn’t it? God picking a fight with someone? Yet there it is, right there in the bible. Jacob is alone by a river when – WHAM! – God suddenly attacks him. The action in the story makes this clear enough, but the verbal exchange between the two brings the point home even further. During the fight, God gives Jacob a new name, Israel. The meaning of this name is “God fights” or “God struggles”.
Sometimes people will “fight” for their marriage, or “fight” for a cause, or “fight” for a job. People do this because they believe those things are worth fighting for. So they strive, they struggle. They fight for something valuable to themselves.
The book of Genesis tells us that God fights too. God fights for God’s people, even if it means fighting or struggling with them. God fights for us, even with us, to become the sort of people we could be, the sort of people we should be. Even when we fight back, not wanting to surrender to God’s wishes, God will struggle with us so that we might become the people God has always intended for us to be. And God will keep at this struggle.
This Sunday at Emmaus we will take a closer look at this fight between Jacob and God. I hope you are able to join us.
Grace and Peace,
Ps: You may recall the how things ended for Lt. Dan after his fight with God. You may have picked up on how water symbolized the presence of God during their fight. Watch what happens next. You can watch that scene here.