Is it okay to be honest with you? Things are tough. I know, we’d like to think that as we endeavor to grow closer to our Lord, that things get easier…they don’t. As with Jacob when he wrestled with God at Jabbock, there is something about the process. God is in the wrestling! God is in the struggle, teaching us something of ourselves and certainly of Himself. He likes to wrestle and He likes to win. I think that sometimes we want to win without the wrestling match. But God insists on the wrestling match. We wrestle with God to achieve righteousness. God wrestles with us to accept grace. (I like it when I lose that one.)
We wrestle with lots of things. We wrestle with time. We wrestle at every age. We wrestle with others. We wrestle with the economy, with the boss, with brothers and sisters. Many Christians find themselves wrestling with church or religious activities. We certainly wrestle with calendars. And, we know that scripture tells us that we do “…against principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Satan likes to wrestle too.
I want to spend some time sharing with you how to win as we wrestle to be intimate with God. Isn’t that our ultimate goal? It’s not to gain a blessing, receive a healing, find peace in a troubled time…we’re wrestling to actually know Him. Everything in our hurried and increasingly frazzled world fights such intimacy. Chuck Swindoll writes about the church, “We have become a body of people who look more like a herd of cattle in a stampede than a flock of God beside green pastures and still waters.” He goes on to write, “You want to be profoundly aware of His presence, in touch with Him at the deepest possible level, thinking His thoughts, gleaning His wisdom, and living as close the His heart as is humanly possible, operating your life in the nucleus of His will.” And everyone said…Amen!”
One of my life verses is found in Philippians 3:10. Paul says, “[For my determined purpose is] that I many know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more clearly. And that I may in that same way come to know the power out-flowing from His resurrection [the power it exerts over believers]; and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.” (AMP)
Jesus echoed this same goal in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (NKJV). David famously expressed the same heart in Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God….” You can almost hear the ache in David’s heart to go deeper…to know God more completely, more fully. Spurgeon commented about this passage: “David was heartsick. Ease he did not seek, honour he did not covet, but the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent need of his soul…and absolute necessity, like water to a stag….His soul, his very self, his deepest life, was insatiable for a sense of the divine presence….O to have the most intense craving after the highest good!”
There is nothing so important in this life as to know God more intimately. Everything around us presses in against it, distracts us from it and screams for our first attentions, but God gently draws, speaks softly and lovingly holds us when we draw near. Paul goes on to write in Philippians 3:7-8, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.”
Personally, (even as a pastor) I find it so difficult to say “no” to the temptation of pursuing the actions that will bring human success. But I’m encouraged to press ahead, into more intimacy with God. Like you, I’ve found that deep peace doesn’t reside in my accomplishments. True contentment is only realized in knowing Him.
Watch for the next message…we’ll walk through some practical steps in achieving intimacy with God.
I love being your Pastor!