We have all heard that God never goes against anyone's will, right? Because our relationship with God is founded on principles of love, God just cannot force people to do anything against their free will, correct?
In the next few paragraphs, I hope to springboard you into a whole new way of praying for those stubborn loved ones who just seem to be stuck in the world, showing no signs of ever yielding to Christ.
Consider the prophet Jonah. God had called him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach repentance. However, Jonah paid the fare to get on a ship heading in the exact opposite direction. As a great storm tossed the ship to such extremes that they feared that it was going to be torn apart, its crew found Jonah fast asleep below deck. When confronted, Jonah confessed that he knew that he was the source of the problem. He told them that if they would throw him overboard, the seas will calm down.
Even though God was not going against Jonah's will, He was revealing that He is quite adept at being a will shaker in getting someone to change their mind about something that God considers very important. In this case, the thousands of unrepentant souls in what the Bible calls “The great city of Nineveh.” To do so, God prepared a great fish which swallowed Jonah and spit him out on the beach of Nineveh three days later. Ironically, the Ninevites worshiped a fish god, and following Jonah's preaching one of the largest recorded revivals in history resulted. Every single man, woman, and child repented and turned their lives toward God. You see, God is very good at being a “will shaker!”
The same thing happened with Moses for a total of 80 years to prepare him to lead the children of Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh. And let us not forget how sternly God shook Pharaoh to make him free the Hebrews.
In the New Testament we find the story of Saul of Tarsus, a staunch Jewish Rabbi and ruthless persecutor of the early Church. In Acts 9, we read the story of the most powerful “will shaker” of all time, Jesus Christ, appearing to Saul as he traveled on the road to Damascus. Christ said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4b, NKJV). At that moment Saul of Tarsus was temporarily blinded for three days. Jesus the great shook Paul’s heart so much that Saul became the Apostle Paul, the author of over half of the New Testament. Paul traveled and preached for decades until his eventual martyrdom for boldly proclaiming the Gospel.
We must realize that God is still in the business of shaking hearts and changing people's minds. I know two men personally who each seemed Gospel hardened until they were convicted by the Holy Spirit. In each case, these men were reduced to weeping for several days over their sins. The first left his full-time job as a mail carrier to answer a call to Bible college and full-time ministry. The second was so dramatically changed by Christ that friends that knew him from his previous life were certain that he had lost his mind.
Never give up praying for those hardened souls. Ask God to do what He does best — turn stone hearts into flesh. Let’s all pray and believe together that changed hearts are God’s greatest miracle. You and I are a living proof of that.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.