As a woman, I have this amazing mental capacity to hold onto something for a long time. Most men will agree with me on this. Okay, so that isn’t exactly “amazing” but it’s unreal how easy it is for me to fixate and stubbornly hold onto a grudge, bitterness, un-forgiveness, etc etc. But as I draw closer to God, I see that stubbornly holding onto these things has no place. This attitude of stubbornness is a barrier between Him and I – it’s this human force that keeps me from embracing His offering of peace, joy, goodness…Himself. But up against the power of His Spirit, stubbornness is actually a weak force, and yet it always seems to get in the way. In all honesty, I just require the boldness and humility to knock it down and be obedient to His Spirit.
Paul said to the Philippians: “Work out what God works into you.” (Phil 2:12-13) Yet the thing that keeps us from obedience to God, and working out our salvation is not a lack of will, but something Oswald Chambers notes as our stubbornness. He sums it up well in these words:
“What causes you to say “I will not obey” is something less deep and penetrating than your will. It is perversity or stubbornness, and they are never in agreement with God. The most profound thing in a person is his will, not sin…Stubbornness is an unintelligent barrier, refusing enlightenment and blocking its flow. The only thing to do with this barrier of stubbornness is to blow it up with “dynamite,” and the “dynamite” is obedience to the Holy Spirit.”
And that’s all I wanted to reflect on with this entry. This devotional had been all I’d thought about this week and I did what I could to “work it out” so to speak, into my life. And in those moments when I threw down this stubbornness to God and ran to obey the Spirit in my thoughts, His peace was on me instantly. Every negative thought and resistant attitude that had initially been on my mind, as soon as I sought to bring down that wall, His grace, His Spirit rushed to my assistance. Everything of Him that He’d ask of me felt suddenly so possible. Submission of my stubbornness resulted in an overflow of His presence and peace.
Stubbornness isn’t always a dogged determination to disbelieve God or disobey, all that stubbornness is is choosing to think or believe in my own way, my own ability, my own preferences, over God’s. Plenty of people like to joke to me about their stubbornness, like it’s just something that will never go away, that they’ll just be that way no matter what, and so God’s just gonna have to deal with it. And deal with it He will, we just need to be aware, willing and ready. The thing is, the closer you get to God, the less you want anything between Him and you. The more you taste of His goodness, the closer you want to be with Him, the more you want to experience Him in all aspects of your life and day to day. The closer you get to God the more you want His presence constantly, the more it hurts and makes you sick to be apart from Him. The closer you get to God, the more you realize stubbornness is not stronger that your will, nor even God’s power, but it’s this piddly barrier you need to bring down, and this is done only by obedience to His Spirit in every thing, big and small.