July 22, 2014

Resisting God: Defiance

Luke 15:11-24

The younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
—Luke 15:13


While it may seem exciting to think of God crafting an eternal story for our lives, the fact is that sometimes we don’t want someone else writing our stories—even God. It can feel a little invasive when God intervenes in personal plans and choices that we want to handle ourselves. We begin to bristle as his story-writing starts to cramp our style.

To be sure, it’s a little tricky to rebel against God’s leading. But sometimes God’s people do that. Think of Jonah heading off for Tarshish instead of following God’s call to Nineveh (Jonah 1). Or think of the Israelites’ frequent forays into the worship of idols instead of putting their trust in God.

Perhaps you can think of a time in your life when you’ve deliberately thrown off your faith in God and the teachings of Scripture, heading out in a bold new direction like the younger son in Jesus’ parable. Perhaps you showed defiance by refusing to attend worship, even though others were pressuring you to return. Perhaps you showed defiance as you deliberately engaged in a lifestyle that conflicted with God’s teaching for daily living.

Fortunately, God seems to handle our defiance pretty well. Our rejection grieves him, but God has always been patient, showing a remarkable capacity to wait for us to return to him, like the Father in today’s story.

Has he welcomed you home?

When we defy you, Father, lead us steadily back home to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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