Wrestle and Rest

Jesse Birkey's picture

In my time with the Lord I’ve been hearing a lot about rest.  It seems that the Lord has been pulling me more and more towards the importance of learning how to rest in His presence.  I even had a dream a few weeks ago in which I was in our prayer room and looked at the window to see that the Lord had written the words, “Rest in Me” in the condensation.  


I can take a hint.  Don’t worry, I’m doing my best to learn and understand that everything kingdom related flows out of a place of intimate rest with the Lord.  It’s a journey that I’ve been on over the years as I’m more wired to go out and do.  I’ve experienced my fair share of trouble as I’ve run ahead of what the Lord was teaching me at different times in my life. 


But there’s another principle that is important to me as well.  It’s the invitation to wrestle or contend with the Lord for different things.  Whether that’s gifts, revelation or something else, I understand a God who invites us to know Him, a God who may sometimes want to see that we truly want the deeper things of Him and can be trusted with them before He opens the door so to speak.  I think that there’s examples of this when He wrestled with Jacob and a consistent thread through the bible seems to be that God desperately wants to relate to us.  He invites us to pursue Him, seek Him and always move closer to Him.


So this presents a problem for me.  How do I wrestle/contend with God for things and yet be at perfect peace at the same time?  Seriously…how do I?  I’m hoping you have an answer hehe. 


As I continue to wrestle (haha) with this I find it helpful to think about why we might a hard time being at peace when contending for something.  Here are a couple of things that came to mind, things I’ve had some personal experience with.


1.     My worth/value is tied to whatever I’m seeking.  This has a lot to do with idolatry.  If my worth is tied to it then it’s my idol and I will serve it.  I will not have peace until I get it therefore rest is impossible.  Every instance of wrestling with God will be done with an eye on the reward instead of a passion for intimacy with Him.  Are you okay if you don’t get it?  If that thought produces a visceral reaction inside then there might be something there that shouldn’t be.  If we can detach our value/worth from what we’re seeking than we can contend for it from a place of rest because we don’t need it anymore.  We just need Him.


2.     I don’t believe God really wants to give it to me.  The more I understand God through the lens of Jesus the more I understand how much He desires intimacy with us which helps me understand that He is a God who wants us to know Him.  He is a God who wants to be understood and He wants to pour out onto us all of the blessings of His heart.  For me it’s not a question of His hearts desire.  I think He wants everything for us.  I think it’s about us, what we can handle, what we can be trusted with.  He knows this much better than we do.  I can’t rest and wrestle with Him if I don’t think He wants to give it to me.  But I can rest if can understand that it’s not about His desire. 



3.     I don’t really believe I’m worthy of it.  If this is our belief every time we go to God we will be met with the stress self-hate produces.  We rest in the knowledge of His affections for us.  Until the truth of how He truly feels about us is firmly planted in our hearts we won’t be able to rest and contend with Him. 


4.     Relationship is at risk.  Relationally, things are at risk in a contract approach.  But Jesus wasn’t holding a contract on the cross.  He was opening His arms and inviting us to share in His life.  This is an invitation into covenant and in covenant nothing relationally is at risk.  We are free to argue, contend and wrestle because we know that both parties are deeply committed to sharing in each other’s lives no matter what.  Both parties are invested in each other.  This is what our relationship with God is supposed to be.  If we are afraid that wrestling with Him, being brutally real with Him is going to jeopardize our relationship than we will not be able to rest.  Intimacy cannot exist unless both parties are willing to be real, to be honest whatever that looks like.  And I think God invites and desires this. 


These are all things that get in the way of what should be the highest goal of our hearts, intimacy with God.  When we can get to a place where intimacy is what we seek above all else, it will naturally produce an environment where we can wrestle/contend and be at peace at the same time.




Jesse and Kara Birkey

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