The Dirt on Me

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Last year was dirty. Full of dust, blood, and tears because life didn’t go as planned. With the grime came the break-down, ugly pent-up cries that hurt so badly they didn’t feel like prayers at all.

As I personally struggled in the dust, it caked over me, and I wallowed in insecurity over my family and future. Reading in Genesis about Jacob on the Jabbok, I resonated with his loneliness, isolation, and vulnerability. I, too wondered, if the Divine Presence still held me tightly. Occasionally, blinking up from the grit, my tear-smudged eyes would scan the surroundings for evidence of God’s care.

In my grapplings, I sought relief in the Jacob account. “Alone, Jacob wrestled with a man.” How could he be alone while in a double down lock with an opponent? Abak, the Hebrew verb used for wrestling, is used only twice in the Old Testament, both of which are in this story (Genesis 32:24-25). More dirt-digging excavated that the noun form of this word means dust, while this reflexive verb can mean “to get yourself dusty.”

And there I scuffled: lonely and dirty, wrestling with myself and maybe even God.

But God wasn’t merely watching my struggle; He was in the dust with me. Despite my dirt, mess, and mistakes, He’d rolled up His sleeves to engage face to Face with me (Genesis 32:24). Isn’t that always His way? He touches the leper when a spoken word could have sufficed (Mark 1:40-41).

My God is not a mere Sunday School deity, resolving problems quickly so we can make it to big church on time. No, my God wrestles alongside me and sometimes with me, getting into the grubby business of my life because He craves my nearness. He wants to do life with me.

Although I would rather have a spectacular Navy Seal type deliverance, He chooses a mission of personal change rather than situational change. Nearness in my trouble is often better than rapture out of it (Psalm 73:28). Even though my connection with Him is sometimes more hand to Hand than heart to Heart, His commitment to faithfulness never wavers (Hebrews 13:5 Amplified). He promises to be with me in the trouble before sending total deliverance (Psalm 91:15).

Am I okay with that?

Jacob limped away from his encounter with the omnipotent. When the Divine Presence of God touched the core of his strength, he was never the same. For me, I emerge from the dusty match rubbing my eyes. The exertion has affected my vision somehow.

Maybe now, I can see how the government must rest on His shoulders. After all, He has already transferred that power to Himself (Isaiah 9:6). Maybe now, when I read that, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord,” I will believe God can turn powerful hearts His way (Proverbs 21:1). Maybe I needed a fine layer of dust on my prayers as a filter for better vision. As I engage with God, He will contend with the one who battles against me (Isaiah 49:25).

The time has come for Christ’s church to leave the elementary lessons and move on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1). Christ calls us to stop the immature struggle with one another and expend our strength with the Holy One in prayer. If Christ, the Word, became the dust of flesh (and still managed to reveal glory), then maybe this imperfection I’m experiencing is more like Him than I’d imagined (John 1:14). Help me hang on in prayer, Father, even if it means kicking up a little dirt.