The Ladder Match

I’m tired.  A bit tired.

When I was a kid, I used to watch WWF. My favorite wrestler was and always will be The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. He had this epic rivalry with this Cuban-American character based on Scarface named Razor Ramon. In a clearly fake, potentially offensive impersonation of a Latin American, Razor would look into the camera and tauntingly say “Say hello to the bad guy” and then throw his toothpick in the direction of all the countless wide-eyed boys watching TV at home. Iconic pictures of Shawn Michaels flying from 20 feet up in the air during their legendary Ladder Matches have been seared into my head since childhood.

My brothers and I would wrestle at home all the time and would flip each other around doing power bombs, suplexes and the like. Recently, I’ve made our dog Dodger into my new Razor Ramon as we ourselves wrestle around the living room. Melissa makes for a good audience as I strut out to my own singing of Shawn Michaels’ intro music. Yes, I’ll be 26 next month.

I feel as though I’ve been engaged in a much bigger wrestling match as of late. Wrestling with things that are a lot bigger and a lot more elusive than even the most oiled-up, juiced-up wrestler.

I was having prayer time earlier today and was really struggling to focus on the Lord and envision Him on His throne. I was thinking about so many other things. It was totally obnoxious and totally debilitating.

I struggle with things from both sides. I struggle with desires for things of this world, I wrestle with striving for people’s approval in this celebrity-driven culture, I struggle with my own sin. I grow tired of being forced to wrestle with other people’s opinions. And on the other side, I wrestle with things that I can do to fix the situation. I want to fast so that I can have peace. I think if I would just spend more time with the Lord in prayer, then everything would feel better. If I memorized and meditated on scripture more, I’d have a clearer mind.

All of this comes to a head as I’m praying and I get to this point in my restless struggle where I just speak out loud. “Lord, I’m tired of wanting things other than You.”

I’m tired of wanting to be well-thought of. I’m tired of striving for things that this world and the people of this world put value in. I’m tired of caring about other people’s opinions. I’m tired of trying to reduce my relationship with the Lord to a formula in which I just fast enough, pray enough, read enough to feel okay about myself.

Shortly thereafter, I grabbed my iPod and was heading into the kitchen to do dishes while listening to music. I got distracted when I turned the iPod on, because Angry Birds was left on the screen and pathetically I stood in the doorway of the hall playing a level. Melissa walked past and gave me a kiss. Feeling pathetic in my own self, because well, because I fail at life sometimes and occasionally at Angry Birds too. I ask her “why did you marry me?” Hoping to hear her something say like “because you’re a good man” or “because the Lord gave us to each other” or something to that effect, she instead just responded, “because I like you.”

I think that wrestling with stuff is important. Too often we just turn to trite sayings when we’re in the thick of it and to be honest that doesn’t get us anywhere. Much less when someone else is wrestling and we give them those same vain tidbits. At other times, we just want to throw on Angry Birds and zone out. Pretend the match isn’t going on. I think in many ways, we’ve forgotten how to wrestle with things. So we no longer get in the ring.

But for those that are in the ring, I think Melissa had the landing point in the right spot. At the end of the day, can we stand before the Lord and just tell Him, “I like You”? All the striving, all the wrestling aside, do we like God? Do we love Him?

I want to want God only. Not the superfluous stuff throughout life. Just God. While writing that sentence doesn’t automatically get me to the spot of only desiring Him, its on the map.

Today, despite all the struggles, all the wrestling, despite Razor Ramon slamming my head into the turnbuckle, despite all that, I like God.

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Author: Brandon Stiver

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, living and working in Moshi, Tanzania. My wife is named Melissa and we have three children: Moses, Promise and Shepherd. We are directors over an orphan care ministry called Kingdom Families; advocating for the needs of orphans and vulnerable children and assisting families to welcome them into their homes as sons and daughters.

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