I was told this once by a friend in my home group. I knew the moment he said it – and beforehand in all honesty – it was true. I seem to be fighting with myself a lot at the moment.
Someone said to me the other night that as I was a man I needed to learn to think more, especially when entertaining women, as her husband didn’t know the date of their wedding anniversary.
I argued back that not all men are bad at thinking. Some of us – like me – think way too much.
It’s not up for debate. Honestly, I have lost count of the number of times people have said to me I over-think things and I need to slow down and relax. Admittedly, I do need to slow down and relax sometimes – a sabbath for me definitely will involve no deep thinking, no writing and no stimulus to deep thinking – films like The Matrix are definitely out.
But one of the results of being a deep thinker is over-thinking, and being very self-aware. I notice that in my head I know all the right things, even the deeper arguments and the uncomfortable questions, beyond the normal, but that something in my gut is saying no, and not happy about what this means. Something in my gut is just not wanting to join in, is angry about how his life is and frustrated with God, and no great words are going to change that.
Because of this I have noticed in my journey with God I have often found myself fighting with myself – and with God, trying to come to some place of peace and wholeness.
I’ve thought that once I get to this place I am okay with, that once I have resolved this violence in my heart, that then I will be able to contribute something worthwhile, then I’ll be capable of sustaning a relationship, then I’ll be more at peace, then I will be able to achieve and be the man I was made to be.
What I missed totally was that I will never be that man.
That man will only exist when I am raised up in my new heavenly body. In fact, none of us will ever end up exactly as planned – no one who sins ever does – but God knows us, He knows how we will sin, what we will do, what habits we’ll get into, and He is well capable of amending the plan and coming up with an even better one.
But none of that is the point.
The point is that what is going on my heart now, the wrestling match between my mind and my heart and between my heart and God, is the journey itself.
This frustration, the feelings of mistrust and fear and doubt I feel in my inner being which stem from my childhood, whilst it can and hopefully will be healed, is part of me, and God can use even that. Hopefully, in the process, He can help me to trust Him more, deep down in my soul, to surrender completely to Him and allow Him not merely to resolve the conflict, but redeem the conflict, and use it for both my healing and building His kingdom.
You see my head knows all the info, including the benefits of honesty, doubt and questioning God.
It has all the theory and evidence.
But my heart, damaged deeply by my childhood and with preconceptions about everyone including God, and led along gladly by the enemy (as I keep saying, there is so much evidence for a supernatural evil in the world, that there simply must be a God to counterbalance this. Anyway, I digress) I fight this battle both against myself and God.
Sometimes my mind gives up and allows the heart to do battle on my behalf with God.
You see it is in the wrestling match, the anger, the conflict, the doubts, the mistrust and questions, that God can actually be present and at work.
As I have worked these things through and spoken them out, and acknowledged their reality, I have found the divine to be manfiest within them.
It doesn’t solve the problem. It isn’t a magic formula that makes it all okay.
But, in a perverse way, it takes me deeper with God.
There is a deep irony in that in the midst of my struggles to trust God that He can be the most deeply felt, and I am having to trust Him to hear and deal with these things, but I guess that’s just another paradox of the journey of faith.
We always hide things from the people we love the most, certainly at first we do, when we first get to know them. Things we’re ashamed of, things we’d prefer they didn’t know, because we don’t want them to know these things because they’d spoil the idealised concept of us they have. Eventually, of course, we end up confessing and being honest, and at that point we discover a deeper love and initmacy with that person, because usually by then it doesn’t even matter – and it probably turns out it never would have.
We do this with God as well. Often subconsciously, sometimes very plainly. We ignore our own conflict, our doubt, our fear, our questions, our frustrations and sometimes our sin. We generally call this denial.
But it’s only when we acknowledge this, and acknowledge we have nothing that can really impress God, that we discover that it doesn’t even matter anyway.
It’s not like God didn’t know.
And He loved us anyway – and we often find that in the moments we are most honest about ourselves, and feel the most out of control or unsure, that we can discover the divine in a fresh, life-giving way.
We can find God even in the wrestling match of life. Even in the deepest darkest doubts, mistrust and fear. In the things we are most ashamed of. We must acknowledge the battle that is often going on inside ourselves, between ourselves and God, acknowledge the brokeness, fear and hurt, and confront it. Surrender it.
As we confront it and are honest with ourselves and God about those things, about the things we most want to hide from God, then God can be present in the deepest of ways. A way I cannot put into words.
Don’t be afraid of conflict with God.
Don’t be afraid of doubt.
Don’t feel you have to hide your sin and failure.
Acknowledge the battle. Your battle.
Be honest about it.
Then you can discover the divine in a deeper, more authentic way.
The good news of Christ is, that ultimately, at the end of the day, though the battles may rage during our lifetime, the war has already been won.
That may not help during the battle or lessen the pain we feel, or make everything alright right now. It may not take away that pain or confusion deep in your soul.
But I’m pretty sure it’s true.
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