By: Artie Sposaro
I started wrestling in junior high school. I learned quickly that it’s not easy to walk out on a mat all alone and wrestle another person. It’s easy for fear and panic to get the best of you. This being said, I did okay those first years with a few basic moves and brute strength. When I got to high school this method would no longer work. I had to learn to wrestle well if I was going to win…or even survive.
Wrestling in everyday life reflects my Jr. high wrestling experience. It takes courage to step out to take on life. It’s easy to let fear and panic get the best of us. We wrestle our anxieties, and by using a few basic moves and brute strength we get by. But this is no way to live. We recognize that to thrive in life we’ve got to get better at wrestling.
I had great wrestling coaches in high school. I got better at wrestling by listening and responding to my coaches. More specifically, I did well because I learned to rest. By rest I don’t mean being lazy. I mean rest as relaxed trust. I dropped my fear and panic and learned to trust my coaches and my God-given abilities. During matches I wrestled and listened carefully to my coaches simultaneously. I trusted them and all that I had learned from them.
Many of us don’t realize that God desires for us to rest. God wants us to trust him completely. He provides us his Spirit to teach, coach, and empower us as we wrestle whatever we face in life. We’re not meant to live in fear and panic. God longs for us to rest in him. As a matter of fact, he commands it. Anything else is disobedience.
You may remember the biblical telling of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. They were bound for a Promised Land, a land of milk and honey. When they came to the edge of the land that God said was theirs for the taking, they sent twelve spies inside to check it out. Ten spies returned frightened by the prospects of entering the land. To the contrary, Caleb and Joshua trusted in God’s promised rest and lobbied for entry. Refusing to rest in God’s promise, the Israelites turned back to the wilderness where they roamed for another forty years. Tragic.
The writer of Hebrews revisits this ordeal in light of God’s doings through Jesus. He tells the Hebrews to make every effort– be diligent, eager … to enter God’s rest. Trust God with everything as a way of life. Anything else mirrors the disobedience of the Israelites, a waywardness that leads to wilderness wandering.
We are meant to wrestle at rest. When I wrestled I was exerting myself completely but also at rest. I was fully engaged with my opponent and tuned in to my coaches’ voices. Notably, the word rest resides in the center of the word wrestle. Whatever the landscape of our life, it is a Promised Land. He lives, moves, and has life within us. In every location God implores us to listen, respond, and rest. Walk forward into the land with peace rather than panic.
God encourages you to wrestle to rest. Shuck anything that prevents you from trusting God with everything. Rest is God’s gift to you. It’s your birthright. Don’t let life or your need to control everything steal your rest! The Spirit of the living God wrestles for you, through you, so you can rest in Him.
“Faith is a refusal to panic.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones
re-posted from lifetime.org