I spent a few years during college as a nanny of three little boys. Precocious and salty, I knew they would be a great fit. Sometimes referred to as the Hole in the Wall Boys or a Motley Crew, I found that their long blond hair and glassy blue eyes were enough for the mischief we were to get into.
Now the eldest boy, Earl, was very serious and aloof. We called him Ferdinand the Bull because sometimes he would just stop to look at flowers, or wait to watch a bug. His father once asked him what he was up to when he was at the beach watching the waves with his arms outstretched. He said, “I’m using the force, dad.”
Though peaceful, this little boy had energy to burn. Many days I would run him from school to tennis, then back home. Upon entering the residence, Earl would ask one very important question: “Wanna wrestle?”
Now, asking this at my office to my co-worker could get me fired, but at this job, the question is extremely valid. To Earl, this was the crux of my existence. Mom didn’t wrestle; she was too tired. Dad didn’t wrestle; he had things to do. Joy, she wrestled. She had time. She never tired. She was good at it.
Almost every time we would wrestle and I would tickle his feet or push him off the couch to pin on the floor. He would try to act like he was done. But giggling, he'd pounce back on me for more fun and games.
Some days, I didn’t want to wrestle. I wasn’t feeling like having my space invaded or my peace disturbed. These days, Earl would be so disappointed. I hated seeing him like that, so I engaged with great enthusiasm.
Now, I realize that just as I was always asked to wrestle with Earl, I’m in another wrestle, only this time with my will.
I’ve been reading copious amounts of literature on faith, God, spiritual disciplines and lifestyle, combing each passage with great care to learn something valuable. Lately, Augustine’s Confessions have hit me right in this spot.
He writes of his conversion to Christ after years of professing a philosophy that left him full of knowledge, yet unfulfilled. And just before his spirit fully accepts God, he goes through this great struggle within. He talks of how his will to change whispers in his ears that what he's going miss out on will be much greater than what he will receive in return from God. (We know this is a lie because sex, money and alcohol cannot fill as God can.) He struggles and almost fully submits to God saying, “Behold, let it be done now, let it be done now.”
I find that I have said this many times in the past months.
It reminds me of the struggle Paul talks about in Romans 7:21-24, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
We have these things within us: these desires, these thoughts and temptations. They will always be there. BUT they are not sins. Wanting things is human. The struggle then is giving them over to God. He wants us to bring them to him and say, “I am a wretched man, but you can deliver me. I have wants and desires, but please make them pure and right.”
This wrestle will never be over. It is with me as I wake. It goes with me through the day. As I bring these wants and desires to the Lord, he makes them right in accordance to his will “his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
For a while I was ashamed that I struggled saying, “God I’m ashamed for wanting what I want, knowing it is pure, but not knowing what to do. I’ve submitted them to you fully, so I trust in that.” He says to me, “You are being faithful in obedience. Just wait. Wait for me and I will bring these desires to you.”
I do not vex over these things I want anymore. He directs; I obey. Things always work out how they should be when we obey.
"God, help me to obey more so that I can see your will and walk it out. I want to serve you. Help my wants and desires to serve you as well. I love you, for you are who you are and you love me. Amen."