Wrestling with God

clockEarly on my mission in Germany, I was assigned a senior companion who was out only two months longer than I was. We were both struggling to learn the language and he felt his poor German skills were detracting from our success. He wanted more time to study, but our rigid schedule made such extra study time nearly impossible.

He devised a scheme whereby he could get an extra hour of study without compromising our schedule. He set his alarm for 2:00 a.m. and planned to study from 2:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m. He asked me if I cared to join him. I respectfully declined.

I was awakened when his alarm went off at 2:00 a.m. I watched him rolled out of bed and kneel down to pray. I went right back to sleep.

When my alarm went off at 6:00 a.m., there was my poor companion still kneeling beside his bed. He had fallen asleep on his knees and remained in that position four hours.

As a result, his poor knees were locked in a keeling position and he could not stand up without excruciating pain. Needless to say, he did not resume his study plan.

enoxWhenever I read about Enos praying all day and into the night, I am reminded of my poor companion’s knee pain. Did Enos really kneel down all day long? If so, did his knees hurt as well?

For years, when I taught about Enos’ marathon prayer, I focused on two things – its length and content. But only recently did I ask myself why Enos really went into the forest to pray.

Enos does give us a clue – he sought forgiveness. Buy why did he need to retreat to the forest and why did it take all day? I guess what I really want to know is what I could learn from Enos’ experience?

First, I reminded myself that he was the son of the prophet. Because Enos had listened and accepted his father’s teaching, I am confident that Enos knew he was to be the next prophet. My guess is that the prospects of being prophet frightened him.

Why?

Well, if I were Enos, I would have doubted his own abilities. Was I smart enough? Was I good enough? Was I clean enough? His inability to answer such difficult questions with confidence pushed him out to the forest where he could seek God’s help.

selfdoubtWhat ensued as not just a prayer with an anticipated answer. Rather, Enos called this experience a “wrestle.” I don’t think he fought with God. Rather, I think he fought against himself as God kept assuring him that he was truly prepared for his new calling.

Now, I don’t have to worry about being prophet, as Enos did, but I share with Enos the same self-doubt. I think God added Enos’ account to remind me that regardless of my self-doubt, I am doing better than I think. My guess is we are all doing better than we think.

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