About a year ago, I was working on a gold leaf project with my union company. The project got delayed and I needed to find a filler job. I have a list of people I call for just this sort of situation and I knew the Lord was telling me to make the calls. But I was enjoying my time off and I was stalling. Somehow making those calls seemed too difficult and I was dreading it.
I took the coward’s way out and left messages on their home phones rather than just calling them direct on their cell phones. When no one called back I knew I was going to have to change my attitude. I was reluctant because doing the right thing meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I felt I was being pushed and I didn’t like it. I was tired and I was being stubborn.
Most of us have some residual stubbornness and rebellion in us. Our spiritual life changed when we got born again but our soul life, made up of our thoughts, emotions and will, still needs work. There are wounds that need healing. Even though we intuitively may know the situation is going to turn out great if we just obey, we allow ungodly stubbornness to get in the way.
When I didn’t make the proper phone calls I reminded myself of Jonah in the Bible. “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it.’ But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3).
The people of Ninevah had a horrible reputation. Their brutality was renowned. Jonah didn’t want them to be forgiven and saved. He wanted them to be punished.
Jonah was pretty sure that if God was sending him there, the king would most likely repent, it would turn out good and God would forgive and save the city. It was God’s nature to forgive and Jonah didn’t want to be any part of God’s mercy right now.
But God didn’t let him go that easily. Jonah ended up in a near shipwreck, got swallowed by a whale and three days later got barfed up onto the beach. It was after this tumble of events that Jonah decided he better go ahead and do the thing God asked him to do. Like with me, the thing God asked of Jonah wasn’t a hard thing. It was something Jonah was used to doing. He just didn’t feel like doing it this time.
When we are rebellious or stubborn it’s because we value our own opinions and desires above the Lord’s. We haven’t yet totally learned or believed that He really does love us and always wants the very best for us.
We’ve learned not to trust people and we apply the same kind of attitudes toward God and the Lord Jesus Christ. We just don’t submit quickly but instead we hesitate, rebel or cross our arms and huff, digging our defiant heels in like a stubborn child that wants everything his way.
Finally after some stiff coaxing from the Lord, Jonah went to Nineveh, warned the king and the city was saved.
I’ve never had the Lord ask me to do something I couldn’t do. More often than not, what He asks is something small. The devil likes to deceive us and make it look like a big deal, but most of the time it’s really not.
God loves us right where we are and only asks us to do things that end up blessing us—one small thing at a time.
I knew if I just made the phone calls, someone would have a fun and profitable job for me. Finally I did do the right thing and ended up with not one, but three jobs!
I know we want to do bigger things in our lives and God will help us to do them, but only when we’re ready. Even Jesus had to grow: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
We grow by making a steady habit of saying yes to the small things without being stubborn or rebellious.
Being obedient is one way we can magnify the Lord’s personal presence in our lives.
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