A little over fourteen years ago from today, I was face down on the floor of a small Pentecostal church in Nashville, Tenessee having a crisis of faith.
I was leading a youth mission trip that summer. I had nearly completed my seminary degree and was about to begin the process of becoming an ordained minister, but I had come to believe I'd made a mistake.
I just knew I wasn't cut out to be a pastor. I wasn't good enough. I had doubts about significant chunks of the Bible. I struggled to love people. I really didn't like church all that much. And I had baggage--lots and lots of baggage.
As I lay there on the floor, inhaling the musty smell of old carpet and dust, a story from the Bible came into my thoughts--a story from the book of Genesis where the patriarch Jacob wrestled with an angel in the middle of the night.
Jacob had a lot of baggage, too. He'd betrayed his family, broken covenants, lived his life on his own terms and always felt like he was less than. So that night when he wrestled with a divine being, he refused to let go. All he said was, "I'm not letting go until you bless me."
I began to pray that prayer. I prayed it over and over again. "I'm not letting go until you bless me."
As I was praying, a pastor who was part of our trip came over to me, put his arm around my shoulders and said, "I don't know why, but I feel like I am supposed to tell you this: 'Rest. It's all right. You are enough."
At that moment a peace washed over me that I could not explain. It permeated every fiber of my being. I knew that there would be other struggles in my life, but at that moment I felt beloved and whole.
If you are struggling today to feel blessed and beloved by God, and you are filled with questions that you've been afraid to ask... hang on tight and don't let go.
Coming to faith isn't easy, and as Rachel Held Evans writes in her great new book Inspired:
"It's a rough-and-tumble, no-holds-barred, all-night-long struggle, and sometimes you have to demand your blessing rather than wait around for it."May you find the strength to pray that demanding prayer to God--"I'm not letting go until you bless me!" And may you find both blessing and peace. May you find the renewal of your faith, and new purpose and meaning.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.