“Wrestles With God” as a Definition for Discipleship

Hi, friends. Last weekend, I attended an event called Fruitful Leadership in Ministry. My pastor has to plan a new community service/mission project as part of the process to become ordained in the Methodist church.

The day was long but rewarding. The room looked diverse–white people, black people, old people, young people, men, women. Diversity accurately reflects the eclectic body of Christ.

A question was posed to each of us–what is discipleship or how would you define a disciple?

A young pastor who couldn’t have been more than 5-10 years older than me (I’m 25) responded “Wrestles with God.” [Referencing Genesis 32:22-31]

The phrase resonated with me–

Me: “I like that answer…’Wrestles with God’…that is so me lately.”

My Pastor: “There comes a point in a Christian’s life when their parents’ religion becomes their own.”

As a young adult directly between ages 20 and 30, I am walking through that season of my spiritual journey right now–the season of my parents’ religion becoming my own and wrestling with God to seek Him, understand Him, and trust Him.

Some people enter this stage earlier in life, though I don’t think most teenagers are mature enough to wrestle with God yet, which is part of the reason they stop attending church for a few years after high school.

Some people never reach this stage at all because God is more or less a figurine on the mantle–a belief to be compartmentalized and stored away for Sunday mornings or just special occasions.

As I balk at rules in Leviticus and conquests in Joshua, I wrestle with God.

As I feel Paul’s words on Christian community rebuking my every minute personality flaw, I wrestle with God.

As I jot notes, stars, and question marks in the margins of my Bible, I wrestle with God.

As I sit by myself, reading and sobbing over stories, verses, and even phrases like “If only I could touch the hem of His cloak,” I wrestle with God.

I wrestle with God because growth requires movement.

Thanks for reading! When did your parents’ religion become your own? Do you wrestle with God? Let me know in the comments.

52 comments

  1. Reading this suddenly filled me with feelings of guilt. My spiritual life isn’t something I like talking about. I stopped going to church for a while after I finished high school, and I only started attending church again early last year because my mum hated the idea of going to church without me.

    When I compare how I lost I am now to how lost and confused I was three years ago, I feel quite content knowing that I’m still holding on to my faith – or what’s left of it. I like to console myself that I haven’t given up completely. I only hope my incessant backsliding from my faith doesn’t make God tire of me soon. I won’t blame Him if he did.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Faith and understanding are much different. As Christians, we simply trust that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to forgive sin. Understanding God’s ways is not required. “His ways are higher than ours…”

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Keep pressing Bro!
      “But, beloved (Obinna), do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance….2 Peter 3:8-9

      Liked by 5 people

    3. I can certainly relate to having doubts and struggles, Obinna. Reading the Bible (almost) daily and getting involved with the Christian community on WordPress has increased the strength of my faith and also my personal joy. Don’t worry that God will ever tire of you, though. Scripture says there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one saved sinner vs. one thousand righteous people. God is ready to throw you a grand fiesta! You could start by praying…even if it’s “Father God, if You are real, please hear my prayer”…you might be surprised what happens! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Your posts about your relationship with God are a joy to read my sister. My parents had a fake belief in that church was only part of a show to make people believe a false image of our family. When I came to Christ with genuine belief, it was not welcome news to my family.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, dear friend. I am so glad you broke a mold of convention and tradition to discover a real relationship with real love and real grace! Your statement reminds me of Jesus saying that He came to bring a sword–you had to break away from your own family to seek the truth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to wrestle with God a lot more — until this year when he really made it clear that, despite it being uncomfortable at times, giving Him the control allows Him to show Himself more. His ways are the best ways. I didn’t always think that. For the past few months I’m trying to wait and listen. I have a sense that I’m entering a new part of life but as always I’m impatient.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Ohhhh yes! When I was 12 and something happened that pushed me to go to God (I have a testimony post on it) I was encouraged by thinking of how Jacob wrestled. It’s true a lot of teens and young adults experience this later. The questioning, the wondering, and hopefully digging for the truth from the Source. πŸ™‚

    My friend and I are going over the ScrewTape Letters which I think I’ve seen you comment on another blog about. We finished 4 and 5, I believe 4 spoke how people find comfort in figurines or pictures. Not actually God. I felt like this was a confirmation in a sense with how closely this was timed. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sweetie, I accepted Christ Jesus as my savior as a teen. I went to several churches with friends and cousins. I got pulled into a cult for a while but the Holy Spirit pulled me out. I then chose to accept a person as a way of lfe. Christ Jesus gave His life so we could follow His. If you this, no matter church you go to you will know if it is right or wrong for you. Love in our Christ Jesus.:))

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When did my parent’s religion become mine? I have never thought along these lines before.

    About wrestling with God, I have several times; ranging from seasons when I believed He existed and seasons I believed He wasn’t more than a ‘figurine’ because of a personal disappointment.

    But in all of it, I am anchored on God’s reckless love for me. He is ‘more real that the wind in my lungs’.

    He is forever faithful.

    Thanks for sharing this piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have had times of serious doubt as well! I am so glad you are out of that season. I love that you said you are anchored to God’s reckless love and that He is more real than the wind in your lungs–such beautiful phrases!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think we all Wrestle with God at some time or another. It’s our humane nature I think.. I agree young prople right out of High School do usually tend to go in another direction for a while, not necessarily turning away from God but “taking a break” so to soeak. I jnow we did Roy and I. But it also seems they do come back to what they were taught as a child. Which I am Tankful for. I am praying and hoping our young folks I watched grow up will make that decision in their lives and bring their children, so we will have children again at church. I miss the children I think more than other changes that have taken place in our congreation. I trust that day will come.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope Debbie, Mallory, and Sydney continue to come and that more children will come to church! We will have to keep praying and thinking of new missions to connect with people. You’re right that many people who are raised in church end up coming back.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This was so insightful. You are VERY wise.
    I am glad you are seeing these things, at this early stage in your life, that is a true gift and blessing as some don’t ever come to see it, which I think is sad.
    For me, it was far different as I was raised in a spiritually abusive environment. However, recognizing that the religion of my parents and the minister in the family who abused me, was actually false, a show, was a huge crux point in making my Christian faith ‘real’. I realized how much of the New Testament warns about false Christians and wolves in sheep’s clothing and that is what I wrestled with the most.
    The religious scales falling off came a few years before I was able to own the full extent of the abuse and confront abusers about it. I couldn’t have done the latter without the former happening–without making my childhood faith into something very real for me.
    Spiritual health and intimacy with God is so key to healing deep emotional wounds! Whenever I fall back into being wounded, it is because my intimacy with God has waned. Keep wrestling!!

    Like

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