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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

Stubbornness Vs. Surrender

"The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control." - Psalm 32:8-9 NLT

A week before my oldest son's wedding, my husband Joe and I went shopping for shoes that would match my dress. I had my heart set on wearing white shoes, even though my friends and family told me that it was too late in the year to wear them at an evening affair. I didn't care much for any of the alternate colors they suggested, so I began combing the stores for white shoes. To my dismay, my husband and I came up empty after searching countless stores in our area. White dress shoes were scarce, and when we did find a pair, they weren't available in my size. I had been praying all this time, and I was baffled by the fact that my pleas for the Lord's help were going unanswered.

Out of desperation, we checked a store that we would never have checked otherwise. When we realized they didn't have any white shoes for me, my heart sank. I felt defeated and weary. I told the Lord that if He didn't show me what else to do, I was just going to wear an old pair of white shoes I had at home. It was then that I spotted a beautiful pair of sparkly silver dress shoes. I made a quick, silent plea to God, and I asked the salesperson if they had them in my size. She said that they had just gotten in a huge shipment because so many people were wearing them to weddings. I could have hugged her. I tried them on, and Joe and I both agreed that they were perfect. The night of my son's wedding, people kept coming up to me and telling me how much they loved my shoes, asking me where I bought them, and if they could take pictures of them. It was such an awesome experience that after the wedding, I left my new shoes out in my living room for days, just gazing at them and marveling at the goodness of God.

The thing that disturbed me most about this experience was that I had no idea I was out of God's will when I was shopping for white shoes. I sought the Lord about my endeavor, and I believed I had His approval. I didn't realize how stubborn I was acting when I had made up my mind to buy white shoes, and I expected the Lord to follow my plan. It wasn't until I searched in vain for what I wanted that I began to suspect that my plans and God's were not the same.

After this experience, the Lord showed me the above verses from Psalm 32, which were confirmation of my willful behavior. These Scriptures assure us that God is eager to guide and advise us, but He expects our cooperation. He longs to give us His best, but He can't do that if we are fighting Him all the way. I've discovered over the years that when we are seeking the Lord and we are in His will, there is usually a "flow". That doesn't mean that we won't encounter some obstacles that are satanic in origin, but that overall, God's Spirit is leading us and working to bring our plans to pass.

Numbers 22:32 (NLT) says, "I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me." This is an example of how God may choose to thwart our efforts if we are resisting His will. At other times, the Lord may decide to let us go our own way so that suffering the consequences of our willfulness may help us come to our senses. In Psalm 81:11-12 (NIV), He says: "But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices."

Sometimes the Lord will use others to correct us or give us godly wisdom. In these cases, it is for our own benefit that we heed what they say. Proverbs 29:1 (NLT) warns, "Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair." We need to realize that stubbornness is offensive to God, and He takes it very seriously. This is evident in many verses in the Bible, including First Samuel 15:23 (NLT), which says: "Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols."

The truth is that God wants to bless us even more than we want to be blessed. But we have to trust Him and follow Him, believing that He always wants what is best for us. In Isaiah 1:19 (NIV), He makes this appeal: "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land." And in Isaiah 48:17 (NIV), He says: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."

That day I was shoe shopping, God wasn't trying to withhold His blessings from me. He was trying to bless me above and beyond anything I could imagine. Only when I surrendered to His will was I able to receive His best. May David's prayers be ours today - "Keep Your servant from willful sins. Make me willing to obey You." (Psalm 19:13 NIV; Psalm 51:12 NLT)

Prayer: Lord, when I am tempted to resist Your will and go my own way, remind me that Your Word says, "The stubborn are headed for serious trouble." (Proverbs 28:14 NLT) On the basis of Your promise, I ask that You heal me of my willful ways, and guide and comfort me. (Isaiah 57:18 AMP) Thank You that as I am willing and obedient, the best of Your blessings will be mine!

- J. M. Farro


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