Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where Is Heaven? A Divine Wrestling Match

Where is Heaven? A Divine Wrestling Match


Along with a faith life being portrayed as a runner in training and a boxer conditioning, the faith life is portrayed as a wrestling match. Jacob takes on God in an all night wrestling match. Our faith story shows us times when we wrestle with God.


When turning to our faith story, we find a people who trust that God is ruler of all creation. God has subdued the power of chaos. Yet, at times, this chaotic power rears its ugly head. In its wake, we find destruction.


Walter Brueggeman speaks of this power in his book An Unsettling God. Much like a strong man who has been captured but continues his taunts, the power of chaos threatens creation. This power, Brueggeman shows, can come into being through the action of an unfaithful leader. In the story of slavery in Egypt, we read about the actions of Pharaoh leading to a series of plagues that grew in severity.


The image of the strong man appears also in Mark 3: 20-30. It is as if a strong man breaks into our home. We are able to subdue the strong man, but have not gagged him. He sits, restrained but taunting, hoping that his taunts will bring about fear that leads to some action on our part that would set him free.


Now there is a tendency among some to blame the destruction of Hurricane Sandy on choices people or leaders in our country have made. Before the accusations land on a person or certain people, I want to call our attention back to the section of Mark in which we speak about the strong man. Mark follows this account with the challenge of the blasphemy of the spirit. Simply put, be cautious of calling that which is good, evil and that which is evil, good.


Perhaps we should ask, "What do we want this storm to be?" An answer that leads us toward that blasphemy warrants caution.


Brueggeman also speaks about the suffering of people due to the power of chaos. This concept is found in many Psalms of Complaint. Psalm 30: 7-11 reads, "While I felt secure, I said, I shall never be disturbed. You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains. Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear. I cried to you, Lord; I pleaded with the Lord, saying, What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; O Lord, be my helper."


We hear the words of Psalm 22, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus himself picked up this cry at his death on the cross.


Appears, at times, that God is inattentive. In those moments, the power of chaos shows forth. God's people have done nothing wrong, but suffer from the inattentiveness of God.


At those times, God's people "take God on." Listen to the words of Mary, after the death of Lazarus, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died."


There is room to wrestle with God. We wrestle with God in trust. Trusting that God will hear our complaints and cries for help, and be our helper. Throughout Scripture, we find a God who is not distant, but hears the cries of His people.

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