Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Boxing with God?

Do you ever find yourself fighting with God? I hope that doesn’t seem a strange question because it happens to me quite frequently! “I’m never going to be a minister!” I resolved at an early age. Then it was, “Well, I’ll never serve a congregation!” That was when it was my goal to be a prison chaplain. Finally it evolved into “I will never be a senior minister and have to preach every Sunday!” Oh well. So much for never. But the two of us still have a good wrestle pretty often. I’ve learned a few things, usually through trial and error, along the way through life. God has a sense of humor. God changes plans. God knows best. God doesn’t let me take shortcuts. God has a different understanding of time than I do. God isn’t at all what I thought God to be twenty years ago, last month, last week nor yesterday – my understanding and our relationship keeps changing and evolving.

Still, we do battle sometimes. You’d think I would know better by now, but I suppose learning something doesn’t necessarily mean putting it into practice.

I believe it was near the end of the 1970s that the musical “Your Arms are Too Short to Box with God” was on Broadway. It was based upon the Gospel of Matthew and was moderately successful with stars Al Green and Patti LaBelle in the cast. I am sure I saw a version of the play somewhere some time, but it must not have been memorable because I don’t recall a single detail about it. I think maybe the title put people off. Most of us don’t feel comfortable with the notion of boxing with God, although there was that guy in the Hebrew Texts that wrestled with an entity that sounded god-like to me. [See Genesis 32:23-34]

Even off-putting, the musical’s title implies a truth. Your arms, my arms are too short to box with God! But that’s okay; another thing I’ve learned along the way. Now if I could just go beyond knowing that to believing it.

Until then, “Hey You…are You ready for another round?”


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