Resistance: I’ve been pondering it recently.
A river will run down a hill to the lowest point in the easiest way possible – with the least resistance. It’s just a natural process.
There are days where I want my life to run down the easiest route, with the least resistance. When the alarm goes off there are some days when all I want to do is hide under the covers, pick the easy life and let life run down the easiest route possible.
But the path of least resistance isn’t always the best one. Anytime we aspire to something that’s greater than our comfort, we encounter resistance:
Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher. So if you’re in Calcutta working with the Mother Teresa Foundation and you’re thinking of bolting to launch a career in telemarketing… relax. Resistance will give you a free pass.”
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
I’m not trying to make a judgement here on telemarketing; that’s not the point.
Resistance comes to me primarily through fear and inadequacy. The little voice in my head tells me “you’re not good enough to aspire to be that, or do that. You might as well just give in now.” Weekly, and sometimes daily, I feel an insidious fear as I face different circumstances or events: I don’t know if that will ever change. But one thing I do know: if I give in to resistance and choose the easiest path I will slowly and surely die.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who faces resistance – it comes to us all in different guises.
So, if resistance is all around us, what can we do about it? Here’s a few things that help me….
Recognising resistance, and my natural inclination towards the easy route, is an important first step. If I can’t even recognise when I’m facing resistance I’ll never be able to do anything about it.
What’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing? When I feel fearful about something, for example, I come back to my “why”, so that I measure the cost (fear) against the gain:
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”
The judgement that something else is more important is called “vision”: it’s the reason why, despite fear, I will still continue to do something. To rephrase Meg Cabot: “The cautious don’t live because they have no vision to take risks for.” Henry Ford still threw up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five, and when it comes to public speaking it’s a similar dynamic for me. But I continue to do it because my vision is greater than my fear. My vision to encourage others to walk closer to Jesus, is greater than my fear of public speaking. Most of the time……
- Hard Work: one foot in front of the other
Overcoming resistance takes hard work. When I was training myself to run I always had the literal picture of putting one foot in front of the other. It was simple. But hard.
One foot in front of the other: that was how I learnt to run. Simple but hard. Hard work is not the same as striving, by the way. When I look at the lives of the early apostles they worked hard; really hard. And they also operated in the power of the Holy Spirit, in God’s grace. Grace is not opposed to effort. If we want to conquer resistance it will take hard work.
Continuing with the running example… I’d leave home for a run with Rich and the kids cheering me on and I’d come home to find the same. We can’t do stuff alone; we’re not meant to. If we’re going to combat resistance we need a faithful few who will be our champions. And I also like to picture the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 11; the saints who’ve gone before us who, by faith, finished the race. As we run the marathon of our lives, they’re cheering us on saying, “You can do it. By faith I finished, and you can too. GO ON!!”
All the stuff above is important. But the “Who” is the missing piece. My “Who” is God. It means that even on the days where vision is gone, I’m tired of putting one foot in front of the other, and I’m not sure who’s championing me I am still certain of one thing. I’m certain of who my “Who” is. I’m certain of who my life is for. I fail each and everyday. But each and every day I start again, in His new mercies, to try to live my life as a love offering to Him.
Colossians 1 says:
continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard
The word steadfast here means “loyal”. To be loyal means to be “Faithful to a person or a cause; firmly in alliance to somebody or something.” Who are we being faithful to? No matter what the cost, or level of resistance I face I will aim to be stable and steadfast for God, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing He is infinitely more stable and steadfast towards me.
The saints in Hebrews 11 fought resistance by faith in God. Abraham, by faith, left the comfort of home and “made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.” It would have bene a lot easier for him to stay put. But he heard the call of God, and obeyed.
Those saints met resistance with faith; not faith in themselves but faith in God. And faith always comes by hearing by the word of God, written and spoken (Romans 10:17). When I know God’s word I can step out in faith in response to that.
And in Jesus, of course, we have the greatest example of one who left His rightful place in Heaven and chose the hard path – humbling himself to become babe, boy and man, and then surrendering His life on the cross, overcoming death and sin. It’s His power that lives in me.
As my husband would say……BOOM.
So how about you? Where do you encounter resistance? What’s your response to resistance?