wrestling with God

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A man came and wrestled with Jacob until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

… Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – Genesis 32:22-31


Yesterday this house was extremely quiet, all day long. Both Rebekah and I are working on projects that require uninterrupted concentration – so Maul-Hall became a quiet zone where the silence was punctuated only by the gurgling of the next fresh pot of coffee, or the sound of Scout Labradoodle snoring at the foot of the stairs.

I’m finishing up the first draft of my new book, and Rebekah is reading/grading ordination exams for prospective ministers who are completing their Masters in Divinity degrees. And I have to tell you, the atmosphere generated by the shared creativity, research, intellectual inquiry, and spiritual discipline is something that I love to be immersed in.

When Rebekah works at home she takes over the dining room table and spreads out. She loves her office at the church, but there’s simply too much going on at WFPC to guarantee the distraction-free environment necessary for the task she is engaging this week.

thinking chair
thinking chair

Likewise, dealing with a 200-plus page book, I’m letting phone-calls go to voice mail and spending a lot of time occupying my favorite “thinking chair” in the corner of my study. However, rather than a distraction, sharing the house with Rebekah while we both study serves to facilitate the creative process. We started the day with prayer and devotion over breakfast, we bounced ideas off one-another when I served her coffee, and we shared inspiration and insights over lunch.

EXEGESIS: Rebekah is investing the bulk of her time this week reading New Testament exegesis exams. The examination, according to the Preparation for Ministry department of the General Assembly, “shall assess the candidate’s ability to interpret an assigned passage of Scripture by demonstrating attention to the original language of the text, an understanding of the text’s historical context, and an ability to relate the text effectively to the contemporary life of the church in the world.”

For Rebekah, it has been an opportunity to reassess her own exegetical disciplines, and to spend some time honing her Greek. For me, it has been encouraging to observe her satisfaction as she realizes how much she has learned and grown over three decades of ministry; and to watch her deep love for scripture translate into discernment and understanding, as God speaks so eloquently to her and through her.

Our home this week is a place where prayer, love, academia, imagination, faith, study, creativity, and God’s Spirit are all working together to teach us and to use us.

IMG_1772Yesterday, in discussing What Is Truth?, I wrote that “something is happening at my house that I believe will help.” Well, this is it.

We wrestle with God’s word a lot here at Maul-Hall, and – like Jacob – we wrestle with God too. It’s my prayer that the insights I share – that we share – will encourage all of us to be more faithful witnesses to the amazing Gospel of Love.

In love, and because of love – DEREK


  1. Loved the post, Wrestling with God… God the creator could snap a man into oblivion and yet he wrestles with Jacob and each of us. Reminds me of when I used to watch my husband play wrestle in our living room. He could have thrown all the kids off of his back but instead he strengthened them by allowing to feel as though they were winning. In our wrestling God enjoys the interaction, but he also is giving us strength and encouragement. I won’t let go until you bless me. God loves to bless his children. Thank you for your post.


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