Wrestling with God
© 2002 Mike Furches
No part of this presentation may be used or copied without
specific written permission from Mike Furches or Furches Family
Ministries. Anyone who chooses to use this material without
permission is subject to severe criminal activities punishable
by law. For permission to use this presentation in itís
entirety or part contact Mike Furches or Furches Family
I have presented this
presentation numerous times at various events ranging from
tournaments, wrestling clubs, and even churches. It is
important to use wrestlers for illustrations when doing the
presentation to help give a visual illustration. After
presenting this particular presentation at the 2003 Kansas State
Kids Open Tournament and the 2003 USA Wrestling National
Folkstyle Tournament I had numerous individuals request that I
it on my web site. With those requests, we now have the
article. I hope it blesses you and that you think about the
parallels of faith in this great sport.
Wrestling with God
Wrestling is a great
sport! That is one of the reasons we are here today. We love
this sport, which has been recognized as one of the oldest, if
not the oldest sport known on our planet. It is by far the
oldest of the Olympic Sports and the history of this sport goes
back thousands of years.
If we watch an 8-year-old
55-pound wrestler go up against a 16-year-old 275-pound
wrestler, how many of us think that the younger wrestler will
have a chance? I doubt that many of us would think that the
younger and smaller wrestler would have much of a chance but
there is usually someone who thinks they would. I do not know
why they think that but they do. I do believe that with Godís
help it is possible that we all have a chance to conquer the
things in life that we have difficulty with, even the things
that might seem insurmountable.
Did you know that
wrestling is Godís favorite sport? It is, it is mentioned in
the Bible in no less than three different places. Do you know
the first place in the Bible, or for that matter the first
recorded mention of the wrestling in history? Most people say
Jacob but they are incorrect when they do. The first mention of
wrestling in the Bible occurs in Genesis Chapter 30 verse 8.
So Rachel said, ďWith
mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, (and) I have
indeed prevailed.Ē (New American Standard Bible)
The first place in the
Bible or for that matter-recorded history, wrestling involves a
woman. In some ways, this can teach us lessons in and of
I recently had the
privilege of meeting Coach Ed Edison. Coach Ed is known in
Kansas for his involvement with wrestling, and especially with
helping getting womenís wrestling on the map. You can learn
more about Coach Ed by visiting the web site http://www.eteamz.com/ksgirlswrestling/
or the web site
The truth is that some young men will learn today, just as many
did yesterday that many young women have excelled at this great
sport. They have learned great technique and are at the point
that with hard work, many of them will, and have prevailed just
as Rachel did over her sister, over many young men.
We are at a time when we
need to learn to give the young women of our world, those who
participate in wrestling and those who donít the respect they
deserve. God created women and saw them as beautiful and good.
He gave them abilities to do wonderful things, not just cooking
and staying at home with the kids, which he did call many to do,
but he also called them to be good wrestlers just as he called
and gave Rachel the ability to be an excellent wrestler. Women
in our group today go for your dreams; do not let chauvinistic
attitudes keep you from being everything that God intended for
you to be.
There is another incident
in the Bible where wrestling is mentioned. Do any of you know
of the next place or the next person where we hear about
wrestling? That is right; most of you know the story of Jacob.
It is a wonderful story of not only wrestling, but of a man
wrestling with an angel of God and in many ways with God
himself. The story takes place later on in Genesis; Genesis
Chapter 32 verses 24-32.
Afterwards, Jacob went
back and spent the rest of the night alone. A man came and
wrestled with Jacob until just before daybreak. When the man
saw that he could not win, he struck Jacob on the hip and threw
it out of joint. They kept on wrestling until the man said,
ďLet go of me! Itís almost daylight.Ē
ďYou canít go until you
bless me,Ē Jacob replied.
The man asked, ďWhat is
ďJacobĒ he answered.
The man said, ďYour name will no
longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and
you have won. Thatís why your name will be Israel.Ē
Jacob said, ďI have seen
God face to face, and I am still alive.Ē
So he named the place Peniel. He was
limping because he had been struck on the hip, and the muscles
on his hip joint had been injured. Thatís why even today people
in Israel donít eat the hip muscle of any animal. (Contemporary
I believe that Jacob had a
great sprawl or pancake when it came to wrestling. He could
shoot, had a massive cross-face and an incredible wizzer. After
all, he wrestled with the angel all night long and the angel
eventually tells him that he had won. While Jacob was stubborn,
he was after all at this point wrestling all night against an
angel, he was still determined and willing to go the full
distance to accomplish his dreams. He didnít give up, he faced
We also learn lessons
about God though in the story of Jacob. The angel had to have
had an incredible hip heist, he knew Greco Roman technique
because he was able to throw Jacob. He could break his opponent
down and make him pay the price for his stubbornness. We know
this because we see that Jacob was thrown and landed on his
hip. He walked around with a limp for the rest of his life.
You know I think that if you broke it down they probably both
had cauliflower ear too after all was said and done, after all
you donít see any mention of head gear.
Have you ever seen an old
wrestler walk around? I have seen great older wrestlerís like
Danny Hodge or even one we all know, Skip Herrington, who helps
coach our wrestling club. Shucks, you donít even have to be
that old, some of you have coaches that walk around with limps.
I challenge you, that from here on out, every time you see a
wrestler walking around with a limp that it be a reminder of the
time that Jacob wrestled with the angel of God. It can be a
lesson to the things that I will be attempting to point out
We can see from these two
stories where wrestling is mentioned in the Bible. Many donít
know but Rachel and Jacob also had the first wrestling family in
the Bible. They ended up getting married to each other. Now can
you imagine the wrestling family that came about from those two?
There is a third place
that wrestling is mentioned in the Bible. I believe that God
knows that we are still wrestling today. Not just in the sport
but life in general. God knows that the sport is a sport that
can teach lessons in life that is why he uses it in the way he
does. God knows that we wrestled with life yesterday, will so
today, and will certainly do so tomorrow. Ephesians Chapter 6
Verses 12 and 13 helps illustrate this point.
We are not wrestling
against humans. We are wrestling against forces and authorities
and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual
world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that
evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when
the battle is over, you will be standing firm.
I believe that God knows
that many of us today are facing problems and obstacles. Not
just on the mat but more importantly, in life. We know what
many of those obstacles and difficulties are. They include
things like; Drugs, Bullies, Issues at School, Alcohol, Peer
Pressure, War and many more. The truth is that we donít live in
a perfect world. We live in a fallen and imperfect world that
often takes along with it innocent victims. While some may
consider it unjust for God to allow these types of things to
happen, I see it as a ultimate loving God that would love us
enough that he would ultimately allow us to do even stupid
things, even things that unfortunately might cause harm to some
one else. The love of God allows us to make the choices we make,
even bad ones.
God also allows us to
learn lessons from life and the things we become involved in.
That is in part what this last passage of scripture is about.
God loves wrestling and is in part telling us that we can learn
lessons from wrestling, lessons in real wayís and with real
meaning that wrestlers can probably relate to better than anyone
else. If I ask the question, ďWhat lessons have you learned in
life from wrestling?Ē from older wrestlers, I will get responses
I have learned from all
of the hard work, how to stick it out when times get tough.
Iíve learned the
importance of fighting hard when I am at a disadvantage.
Iíve learned to never
Iíve learned how to have
respect for people in authority.
I love my mom and dad,
brotherís sister and family.
Iíve learned to
appreciate my coaches because of the work they put in to make
Iíve also learned to
respect people in authority and leadership by having to follow
the example of obeying the refereeís even during the times
that I might not disagree with them.
I have learned that
someone has the bottom line responsibility of making decisions
and establishing rules. You have to work hard to get to the
place where you can be that person.
I have learned
discipline and a hard work ethic. Iíve had to watch my diet
and in order to be any good I have had to put in long hours at
practice and from following instructions.
Iíve learned that the
people I am around make me who I am. I can see how much
better I do for example when my work out partner challenges me
to be a better wrestler. I can also see from this that the
people I am around in life will make me either a better person
or one who gets into trouble.
I have learned to
understand that I am human and have limitations but in those
limitations, there also exists my strengths. I can only do so
much. Some are more experienced, older and bigger wrestlers
they sometimes have a distinct advantage. God made some
people large and others small, some quick and some slow. He
made us all different. It is important for me to recognize my
limitations and the strengths that I possess and take
advantage of those things not only on the mat but also in
I believe that in part,
God is telling us here that part of putting on the full armor of
God is making sure that we have a relationship with God, and
specifically his Son, Jesus Christ. We are told in fact in the
Bible that the only way to have a relationship with God is
through his Son, Jesus Christ.
One of the evidences of
the need for this is the unfortunate truth that even wrestlers
go through life learning the lessons learned from wrestling but
still have difficulties in other areas of their lives. We see
many who turn to alcohol and drugs, many who have broken
marriages and homes, even those who end up taking their own
lives because life has become too complicated to carry on. Why
would they do this if wrestling teaches so many lessons? I
believe simply put, they do this because they do not have the
one thing that matters most, the one thing that will allow them
to overcome their obstacles, the obstacle of a larger than life
foe, a foe that seemingly seems impossible to defeat, they lack
a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a shame that many learn
all of the lessons from wrestling and yet, do not possess the
one thing that will allow them to get over the hump and be
successful not just in life but for all eternity.
The following segment was
a part of the presentation at the 2003 Kansas State
Championships and the 2003 USA Wrestling National Folkstyle
Championships. It should be noted that since those
presentations that Patrick Miller has returned home safely from
the war in Iraq.
As I conclude today, I
want to remind you of the importance to keep in mind those
wrestlers who have served their country and are paying a
terrific price for the freedom that you and I possess. We need
to remember them in our prayers and our thoughts. One of those
young men, is Cpl. Travis Eichelberger who is 20 years old and
recovering from injuries incurred in Iraq. Another young man,
Patrick Miller from Valley Center, is one of the hostages being
held by Iraqi forces. Both of these young men are men that
wrestled in High School in Kansas
and are learning the importance of their faith in conjunction
with the lessons in life learned from wrestling. Please say
your prayers for them, that God would provide healing, yet also
provide comfort and safety.
Remember that God knows how to
wrestle and can hurt you if you want to continue to wrestle with
him and the direction or desire he has for your life. What he
really wants most though is to bless you because he loves you.
He loved you so much that he sent his only Son to die for you.
Thankfully, his Son rose from the dead and through his Holy
Spirit now gives us the opportunity to have new life. God can
also teach you lessons from this great sport if you are willing
to listen or to learn. Are you willing to listen to God and do
what he wants? Or are you willing to go to battle without that
last thing you need to make you a true conqueror, not just on
the mat but in life as well? If you are then let me know by
speaking to me today so I can share how you can come to know
Christ or email me at
I can think of nothing more satisfying than having the chance to
do that with you.
Let us pray: ďDear God,
today I ask that you give wisdom to the coaches and parents and
help the table workers stay focused on the work ahead of them.
I ask that you help the officials and referees enforce the rules
fairly, and may the wrestlers wrestle to the best of their
ability, not just on the mat today but also in life. I also ask
that as they wrestle that you would protect each of them from
injury. Thank you for allowing each of us here to take part in
this wonderful sport that you love so much. Dear God, I also
ask that you be with our troops today that are helping to
liberate the people of Iraq. I ask that they work for justice
and show mercy. I also ask you to be with their families at
home who are also making sacrifices. I ask you to do these
things and I ask your blessings on the rest of this event, in
Jesus name I pray, Amen.