If we value experiencing internal peace and being at rest in our spirit, it is a good idea for us to often ask ourselves this question:
Are there any areas where I am resisting God
working in and through my life?
Why is this an important question? Because there is no better way to forfeit our internal peace and rest than to resist our Maker.
To illustrate the unrest that accompanies resistance, let’s take a look at the prophet Jonah - a resistor who received an assignment from God -”Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it…” (Jonah 1:2) God said “Go!” and Jonah responded with “No!” as he resisted God in three major ways.
Jonah Reasoned “Oh Lord, is that not what I said when I was still at home?” (Jonah 4:2)
When Jonah received the command from God to go to Nineveh, he tried to reason it out before he even left home. The Ninevites were an enemy of the Israelites and well known for their evil behavior. The God who was sending Jonah to them was, in Jonah’s own words, “…a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2). That God would send Jonah to them to preach rather than destroying them outright was probably a mystery to Jonah. How could that be rational and how could that be right? Jonah’s failed attempt to reason and make sense out what God was asking him to do led him to his second act of resistance.
Jonah Ran “That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.” (Jonah 4:2)
Rather than obeying God’s command, Jonah bought a ticket and got onboard a ship travelling in the opposite direction of his assignment. God responded by sending a storm so violent that it threatened to break apart the ship. The inevitable result of his resistance came when he admitted that his disobedience was the cause of the storm and he was tossed overboard and swallowed by a big fish which brought him to the point of desperation at the bottom of the sea. Jonah cried out to God and God responded by putting him back on dry land with a second chance – “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’” (Jonah 3:1). The king of Nineveh responded to God’s message delivered through Jonah by acknowledging and repenting of Nineveh’s collective sins. He commanded the people to “…call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 3:8-9). God responded to the Ninevites' repentance with compassion and “…did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened”. (Jonah 3:10). But rather than being thankful that the Ninevites had responded to God's message, Jonah instead moved on to his third act of resistance.
Jonah Raged “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (Jonah 4:1)
Jonah was angry. In fact, he was “angry enough to die.” (Jonah 4:9)
When looking at the story of Jonah, it is safe to say
that Jonah, the resistor, was not a man who was at
peace with God or at rest in his spirit.
To Jonah’s credit, he did resolve one of the areas of his resistance – running - which is a temptation that many of us also encounter as we walk with Christ. A turning point came when he cried out to the Lord for help and decided to no longer resist. His prayer from the bottom of the sea contained the following important words, “What I have vowed, will make good…” (Jonah 2:9) What did Jonah vow? We don’t know for sure, but given that he was a prophet, we may speculate that he probably made a vow that may sound familiar to many of us who are devoted followers of Christ: “I will go where you want me to go, do what you want me to do and say what you want me to say” But just like Jonah, we have our own Ninevehs – those things that God asks of us that go against our sensibilities. Like Jonah, we also have places where we don’t want to go, things that we don’t want to do, people that we don’t want to serve and words that we don’t want to say. Still, Jonah chose to stop resisting God and fulfill his assignment.
But, at the end of the story, Jonah’s unrest continued as he still struggled with reasoning and rage, as his thoughts and emotions were not in line with God’s plans and intentions. Jonah saw the Ninevites as a group of evil people (120,000 people, to be exact) to be wiped off the face of the earth. God saw the Ninevites as a group of people to be concerned about. In God’s eyes, they were a group of people doing evil things, but they could not “tell their right hand from their left.” (Jonah 4:11) Jonah saw a group of people in need of judgment. God saw a group of people in need of warning and correction.
We can burn a lot of precious energy, waste a lot of time and suffer a great deal of inner turmoil when we resist the work that God is doing in and through us as we reason, run and rage rather than cooperate and trust.
I’ve always enjoyed a good sermon about Jonah because his story makes me feel better about my own. That is, until I realize that my story is not as different as his as I would like to believe. I, too, have been a resistor by reasoning, running and raging. In fact, the blog that you are reading and the website that has been created to house it are all the result of someone who finally decided to stop resisting. And one of the primary motivators of getting back in line with God’s working in my life was the internal and external unrest that inevitably follows the one who resists trusting in and cooperating with her Maker. I have found that aligning my thoughts and behavior with God’s plans and intentions does not answer all the questions and does not erase all the uncertainty, but it does give internal peace and spiritual rest.
How about you? Have you ever considered that your lack of peace or feelings of unrest could be a result of resistance? Are you expending available energy, wasting precious time and experiencing inner turmoil as you try to out-reason, run from or rage about the work that God is trying to do in and through you? Is there any area of your life where you are resisting by putting your own ideas, thoughts, feelings and decisions above God’s wisdom, guidance and instruction? Is it possible that acceptance and obedience may be the place where you will find the peace and the spiritual rest that you desire?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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