Getting Past the Resistance

April 15, 2014 — 3 Comments

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Most of us want something to change in our lives. We need to lose a few pounds. We hate our jobs. The same anxieties and worries that accompanied us last year are still there, gnawing at our edges and eating away what’s essential about us.

But change is hard, so we put it off, or we blame others because they don’t want us to change. This is convenient, actually. We forgo opportunities to change because we don’t believe change is possible, or we don’t want to walk into the risky challenges that change brings.

Even though we want change, we resist it.

One of the greatest barriers to walking into a new beginning is not the resistance you face from others; it’s the resistance you yourself (consciously or unconsciously) bring to bear. 

There is a very human scene in the life of Moses, at one of the most famous intersections in history. Moses was born a Hebrew, then given up by his mother because the Pharaoh ordered the murder of all baby boys under the age of two. He grew up as an Egyptian in the Pharaoh’s palace, a prince who was drawn out of the water by Pharaoh’s daughter (who incidentally broke the law by disobeying the King, her father).

One day, Moses went out to see how his brothers (fellow Hebrews) were being treated. Once honored guests in Egypt, they were now slaves. What he saw threw him into a blind rage, and he murdered an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew. Then he ran into the desert, where he stayed for forty years, an exile that didn’t know who he was, where he was from, or where he was going.

One day, Moses sees a bush that is burning, but is not consumed, and God speaks to him. God tells him that God has heard the cries of God’s people, and that God is going to rescue them. God was going to send Moses back to Egypt, to demand that the most powerful leader on planet earth destroy his own economy by letting his slaves – the Hebrew people – go. God promises to go with Moses, and promises that everything God says will happen, will happen.

And then something delicious happens, because it’s exactly what you and I would do. Moses challenges God on every level. Moses questions everything God says that God will do. Moses resists. This is one of the reasons I find the Scriptures so believable and so compelling, because of the ridiculous and beautiful questions Moses has for God in Exodus 3 & 4.

Who am I to confront Pharaoh and lead these people out of Egypt?

If they ask who sent me to demand the release of these slaves, who should I tell them sent me? 

What if they don’t listen to me? What if they don’t believe you sent me?

I don’t speak very well. I stutter. I am slow of speech and tongue. I will mess it up for sure.

Send someone else, I beg you. 

Avivah Zornberg is a scholar of Torah and rabbinic literature, and she was recently interviewed by Krista Tippett on her radio program, On Being. During that interview, Zornberg notices that the word that Moses uses to describe how he’s slow of speech is kaved, which means heavy. Moses literally says he has a heavy mouth. Later in the same story, we read that Pharaoh’s heart is hard, and the same word – kaved - is used. Kaved means heavy, but it also means resistant, impervious, or closed off.

So both Moses (at least initially) and Pharaoh are kaved – resistant – to the change that God wants to bring about in the world through these two men. There is a resistance to God’s desire to set people free that isn’t just being harbored in the heart of Pharaoh, but it’s being harbored in the heart of Moses, and perhaps even in the hearts of the slaves. Something needs to happen in the hearts of Moses and Pharaoh and the people, in order for freedom to happen.

Zornberg says:

“Moses is very sensitive to the problem that he has and that he senses the people also have. So the whole situation as I understand it as the story begins is not a simple one of a cruel, persecuting Pharaoh and poor, helpless victims. It’s poor, helpless victims who will need in some way to arouse within themselves the capacity to be redeemed, that is to open themselves to relationship, to communication. I’d like to suggest that the whole story really is about the need for the people to be more than an object that has to be yanked out of Egypt. But for the people to become, to acquire the kind of life and openness and communicability that makes them want to emerge from that place of death which is Egypt.”

In order for the change that God wants to bring about to actually come about, Moses would need to acquire the kind of life and openness that makes him want to emerge from Egypt. And if he does not acquire that kind of life, he will not be able to lead those people into a new life.

I believe God is inviting us to do all kinds of good in the world, and in order to move towards those good things, we may need to move towards an openness to God, and an openness to each other, that for some reason, we are resisting.

So what do you want? What would make you want to emerge from whatever place of death in which you are currently enslaved? What needs to open which is now closed off in you?

In it together, friends.

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3 responses to Getting Past the Resistance

  1. Wow! Thank you for posting this. Very encouraging and right to the heart. I’ve been living life, but sometimes I feel like there is more. I have a relationship with my creator, a family, a good job…but I also suffer from chronic nerve pain (for the past 7 years). I feel like there needs to be a reason, a bigger purpose for this, but I don’t know what that is. I recently took the call from God (it took several years) to leave my job, move to a new city, and start a new job – all the while my wife and three kiddos right next to me. It’s been exactly one year since we moved, and another year with chronic nerve pain. I don’t know if I will ever see an end to this pain. I don’t know what is in store for me next. I do know I don’t want to be caught up in the same day in and day out stuff…if I’m going to suffer like this, then I want it to be used for Gods glory. How I go about doing that, I have no idea. What is your plan God?! Why am I hurting like this?! Why can no doctor figure out what is “wrong” with me?! WHY?!!

    These are the questions I ask God – I know and see first hand many others in this world who suffer far greater than I. I do count my many blessings and thank God I can still do many things. When I see 4 year olds with their heads shaved, suffering from chemo treatments, it crutches me. That could be MY son – I thank God for keeping my children healthy. I know God does NOT place pain and suffering on someone, but if someone has to suffer, I want it to be on me, and never my wife or children. I just wish I knew what the purpose for this was, and what is happening to me.

    Without a loving savior, I wouldn’t have the strength to stand and continue moving. The purpose of life would be meaningless – thank God it’s not.

    • Nathan, I don’t know you and I don’t know your life. I do know that you’re my Brother in Christ. Therefore, please know my words are going through Him first.

      Nathan, your pain is real. It belongs to you and you alone. It is a sickness that our dying world has given you. You want your pain to mean something if God isn’t choosing to take it away. You want it to have purpose and use it for furthering the Kingdom of Heaven. These are wonderful ideas and reasons because having them makes the pain bearable. You’ve been living with it for 7 years….

      Maybe, just maybe The Lord is asking you to sit in your sickness for awhile. To accept it as part of who you are. Maybe it’s your “thorn in your flesh” that continuous to bring you to our Heavenly Father, not as a punishment but as a reminder of renewal and strength. A literal reminder that you weren’t meant to go through this life without Him.

      You are doing Good, Nathan. You love and cherish your Wife (I know, otherwise she wouldn’t have followed you to a different state) and point your Children to our God. You are an example to your Co-workers and Friends as to where your Faith and Strength comes from.

      Isaiah 55:8
      8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the Lord.

      I know it’s not a hugely encouraging verse. I just think the verse is asking you to change perspective.

      Karin Schulz

  2. Well, since you asked.
    I want Him to open a path to a career that will make me feel alive while providing for my family. I want the time, energy and focus to write. I want more time with my wife and kids.
    I want to know for sure if the As One Voice project He placed on my heart was meant to come to fruition, or just intended to get me out of my shell, and help shape me into the man he wants me to be.
    And, while I wait for those answers, I want patience, wisdom and understanding.

    Just so you know, this post has spoken to a war that has been raging in me for the past week in a big way.
    Bill Saunders recently posted…A1V Devotional: FrogsMy Profile

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