ON Sunday my pastor preached a powerful sermon on Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis.
As he was praying afterwards he was talking about God and he said ‘He’s not angry with you anymore.’
It hit me hard. The tears came and I had to work to prevent tears becoming sobs.
‘He’s not angry with you anymore.’
I guess I didn’t realise I felt like God was angry with me and so it surprised me that it was this line that caused so much raw emotion for me.
I’ve been pondering why it caused this reaction and I think it goes something like this.
Sometimes I feel like I work so hard. I get up and go to work and then come home and exercise and then work some more and then on the weekend I rush from gardening to cooking for friends to more work and church. It’s exhausting. And yet even though I work so hard, people aren’t pleased with me. As a high school teacher, it can be pretty thankless and all the work doesn’t mean the students are appreciative. The other day my favourite class was having an off day and they were so disrespectful.
With SSA, I feel like I’ve done the ‘right thing’ for going on 16 years and it’s still so much hard work and striving to keep doing the right thing. Right now, there is a guy who I’m not into, but sometimes we make eye contact across the room. Okay, when I say sometimes I really mean ‘not very often’, cause we’re not in the same room very often, but I know that he knows that I know. And then this is work as well. The guy who I’m going to avoid eye contact with so as to not send signals, which I have zero intention of acting on anyway. It feels like it mocks me.
I guess I’m the older brother in the prodigal son story. The one who stayed home and did the right thing and got bitter and felt that ‘dad’ was angry at him. Maybe that’s why I got some emotion from my pastor’s words. The possibility of being accepted without work and striving.
I want to go and spend the next two weeks in a beach house surrounded by forest and listen to the waves crash. The place I was this time last year.
I’m not sure it would help.
As someone on the resurgence wrote the other day:
“What we really need is to rest in a Savior who has sacrificed everything for us already and can give us life to its fullest every day, as well as for eternity.
The gospel gives us that rest. The pursuit of idols is a relentless and endless pursuit of acceptance, but the gospel gives us a position of acceptance in Christ Jesus. We already have in Christ Jesus all the acceptance, security, and hope that every idol promises, but can never deliver. The gospel allows us to stop working in pursuit of acceptance, which leads to restlessness, and frees us to work from our acceptance, which leads to rest.”