Monday, July 23, 2012

Wrestling With God

I just wrote about this in May. I feel compelled to tackle it again. Rats. I really, really don't want to. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I really am an introvert. I like my life that way. I don't particularly like sharing some of the stuff I am driven to share. I like my comfort zone. Or I did when I had one. I'm a red-blooded creature of comfort and I do not like being outside that limited border. Or I didn't like it. God took away my comfort zone long ago. Or did God simply erase the borders? I don't know. It is what it is and what it is is a life out in the open for all the world to see or to not see, whatever the world chooses. All I know is that I have to put a real face on being a human living in melanoma world. Better yet, a Methodist pastor, stage 3b, in melaland. I have to get a voice out there that says, "It's OK." And in this case, "It's OK to wrestle with God."

Yes, I trust, and I'm a huge advocate of trusting God, but usually blind trust doesn't come easy. For anybody. I don't care what people say. It's not easy to trust God in pain, disease, and death. That kind of unquestioning trust, when it's real, comes after a life of pushing the envelope with God and wrestling only to emerge finding God faithful and trustworthy. I've grown spiritually to the point that I'm often at that place. For now. I haven't faced the spread of disease or heard the words, "There's nothing left to try." I haven't been brought face-to-face with my own death though I have faced my own mortality. And while I do, indeed, know a growing, deepening trust, let's be honest here ...

I still wrestle. And God has yet to strike me dead with lightning or punish me, in any way, for my audacity. That's what some people fear. I may be "Carol Taylor," but I'm not so special as to think I'm getting special treatment. No. I find God is big enough not to be put off by the likes of me and He can handle anything I throw His way.

Do I get the answers I want or demand? Heck no. Do I always get any answer at all (on MY personal timetable at that)? Again, heck no. I've heard God's silence on a subject on far more than one occasion. That doesn't prevent me from bringing my wrestling mat to the Throne and throwing it down and challenging God.

So what if He always wins? That's fine with me. And it's as it should be. After all, He's God and I am not. I may not ever win, but I always grow. I'd say I come out a winner.

And so it is that I constantly struggle with God over life and death. Over people fighting melanoma hard. So hard. Damn it hard. And they seem to be FINALLY getting the upper hand, only after exhausting soooooo many options, only to be knocked down again. Intense pain. Blowing the lid off the Richter Scale of Pain, new symptoms or tumors overnight, fear unparalleled, families watching and there but can't do a dang thing to stop all this. They phone and they drive and they sit and they pray and they console but they cannot stop.

And we all cry out to God and we lean on each other. And we wrestle. Whether we call it "wrestling with God" or not, we do it. We question "Why?" even when we shrink from the answer. We demand relief even when we know it may not come in the manner we want it. We shake our fists and tell God to provide a miracle

And God listens to that one, but do we recognize the miracle when we get it?

God is in the miracle business, bringing something from nothing, order from chaos, peace from pain, hope from hopelessness, rescue from helplessness, life from death, cure from disease, healing from all that seeks to tear us down, pull us apart, chew us up and spit us out.

I've wrestled with God a mighty long time now. This isn't my first time. It never gets easier. Frankly, it gets harder and more painful. But it's the only way I now know to get through life's difficulties and trying times. I am just not someone who easily accepts from the Hand of God whatever may come my way or in the way of those I care about. People usually don't get to witness my wrestling, but I do it nonetheless.

When I write and ramble, I'm wrestling. When I speak and can't seem to concentrate, I'm wrestling. When I'm quiet, I'm wrestling. When my heart cries and my eyes leak, I'm wrestling. When I get a little too poetic, I'm wrestling. When I cuss a little too much (notice when I write/say "dang, hell, heck, darn, rats, garden peas, sucks"), I'm wrestling. And when I say, "Let's pray," I'm wrestling.

That's when I do my best wrestling. In prayer. Rarely is it a head bowed, hands folded prayer either. It's a pace the floor, talk out loud prayer. It's a crank up the volume of songs that see me through and belt loudly with them. It's an honest conversation with God Who already knows my heart, can handle my honest vocal rendition of that heart, and can let me have my say without saying a Word. Somehow, as I vent and give voice to the contents of my heart, I know God's at work. Situations have been known to change, though not always. But I change no matter what does or does not happen as a result of my time with the One Who creates me anew.

I grow. Deeper in trust of the One Who Is Trustworthy. Deeper in faith in the One Who Is Faithful. Deeper in hope in the One Who Is Hope Embodied. Deeper in love with the One Who Is Love Incarnate. Deeper in the Hands of the One Who Holds All Things and All Of Us.

I will wrestle again with God. I'm sure of it. Life being what it is and me being who I am.

That's OK because I will grow some more from it. I'm sure of it. That's how God and I roll.

And I am grateful.