JACKSON, Tenn. – May 25, 2001 – “If you are a Christian today, you are going to wrestle with God – how you win, and who wins will make all the difference in your life,” said Hayes Wicker, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Naples, Fla., in his baccalaureate address for Union University graduates. He explained that God is making by breaking us.
Wicker, whose daughter Kristin was among the 296 graduating seniors, told the story of Jacob, and his wrestling match with an angel, who Wicker believes was Jesus.
|Dr. Hayes Wicker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., speaks to graduates during the morning baccalaureate service.|
“Eventually, there will come an explosion in your own private world at some point that everything is falling apart,” which God will allow to occur, warned Wicker. He admitted that one of his first breakings came when he was enticed by another career, and he began to question the authority and the inerrancy of God’s word. Ultimately, he decided he would obey God’s call on his life.
“Brokenness crucifies self so that the spirit might win,” Wicker pointed out. “God wants self out of the way.”
Jacob, whose name literally means heel-snatcher, was a grabber, said Wicker, who insisted on doing things himself.
“The self in us is our biggest problem,” asserted Wicker. “It’s self that says I achieved this degree. It’s self that says I want my way in marriage. It’s self that says
I will go to the career that I choose.
“Only when Jesus crucifies self, when the Jacob is dealt with, then self gets out of the way. Everywhere we go, as Christians, we manifest the sweet aroma of Christ in every place.”
He told the graduates of a time when he was a young pastor during college in the early seventies of the hippie movement.
“We were a cool church,” Wicker explained, describing a sanctuary complete with a dove painted with black light above the baptistry, which would glow in the dark. “Groovy, man.” Wicker said that eventually he realized the black light and glowing dove was not what it was about.
“It’s not the glitz – it’s the cross, burial and resurrection. And it only comes when you tell the Lord ‘I’m willing to wrestle with you.’
“God wants to meet you face to face and when that happens, your life will be changed,” said Wicker. “Not just preserved but exchanged, not just John as a young disciple but John who Jesus loved.
“God wants to bless you. But we must be in that place of wrestling for the blessing to come.”
Sara B. Horn,