The idea of resisting God may seem ridiculous at first. After all, how can something created resist its Creator? How can the lesser push back against the greater? But the testimony of Scripture and the stories of our lives attest to the fact that we do in fact resist God. I want to state it even stronger. I believe that all growth toward intimacy with God involves confronting the resistance in our souls and choosing to push through it. I have felt it in my own life and watched it play out in the lives of others. Let me name four chief ways men resist God.
1. Resistance from Chosen Idols
Idols are the God-substitutes in our lives. They are the mechanisms by which we try to forge a life without God. You can call them addictions or disordered attachments, but this same basic thread runs through them all. Idols promise instant relief from pain or give us some measure of control. The idea of letting them go and trusting God evokes agitation and anxiety. We resist and want to hang on to them.
2. Resistance from Fear
Walking with God is not a formula or an agenda item. Intimacy with Him means choosing to walk into the unknown. It means choosing to surrender everything. It's always all or nothing and always into the uncharted. So when God summons us to walk with Him, we respond with fear. We feel threatened. What might He ask us to do? Where might He ask us to go? No answer is given, just a call to follow. But it seems that God is aware our fear from the numerous times He encourages us in the Bible not to be afraid.
3. Resistance from Disappointment with God
Life doesn't turn out the way we expect it. Sadness interrupts our dreams. Grief strips us of hope. We lament and wonder why. Our disappointment with life quickly turns into disappointment with God. He could have made things turn out differently. Why didn't He? We can become angry with Him and even embittered. Our hearts harden toward Him. He seems untrustworthy, so we resist any motion in His direction. Ironically, the Scriptures invite us to bring our disappointment and anger to God. He will meet us there in surprising ways. But we have to let go of the resistance.
4. Resistance from an Inability to Receive Love
The story of so many hearts is the story of hoping for love only to have that hope abused, broken, or smashed. We draw back to protect ourselves and encase our hearts in walls of stone. Some (like me) have gone further and try to bury their hearts in locked vaults. But the love of God is so different from human love, filled with unbounded compassion and unswerving delight. Yet we resist because of the fear of being hurt again. Perhaps this is the deepest resistance of all. The surrender to God's love means we open ourselves to Him completely and trust completely.
In the end, we come to see that it has been the Father's love this whole time that has been calling us out of our resistance. It is that love that will heal us and give us the courage to trust—all through this life and even through death. On the other side of that crossing, there will be no more crying or pain or tears.
There will also be no more resistance.
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Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has served as a pastor, and a high school Bible teacher. Presently, he leads Landmark Journey Ministries to help men connect their stories to God’s story through retreats and spiritual direction. Bill also serves as content editor for Stand Firm, LifeWay's devotional magazine for men. His greatest claim to fame is being married to Heidi for thirty-two years and having two amazing daughters, Abigail and Rachel. He and his wife currently reside in Franklin, TN. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillDelvaux.