Will Power

My life used to be based on will power. Holding things together by the force of my will. Keeping things under control by forethought, planning, and skill. But I was in a fairly regular pattern of anxiety and burnt out.

Jesus’ invitation is to a different kind of will power: ”I will” power. Saying “I will” in response to His leadership.

I still think ahead. I still plan. I still acquire and use skill. But now I know to take the time upfront to worship and catch His vision. And I am learning to stay tuned all along the way for His guidance and enablement.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
And lean not on your own understanding; 

In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
And He shall direct your paths (Prov. 3:5-6 NIV).

When I say, “I will,” in response to the Lord, I accomplish more with less “sweat.” I am beginning to live the way Jesus invited us to live:ballerina

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).

Who’s in Charge?

In a democracy like the United States, we understand the concept of choosing who will be in charge. We don’t have a choice about whether to have a government, or whether to obey the laws, but we do have a voice in choosing which individuals will make and enforce the laws.

That is very much the case, Votingalso, in the spiritual context of life. We can choose whether to put ourselves under the authority and protection of God and his angels or under the domination of satan and his demons.

This is where you might be saying, “I really did not need to hear this. It freaks me out.”

The good news is: with spiritual “government” you don’t have to wait up until midnight to find out who won the election. You can choose who will be in charge over you at any time, regardless of how anyone else is “voting.”

How do you do that? Let’s look at an example from the ancient history of Israel.

God had rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and was returning them to Canaan–the land he had promised them 400 years previously. The native Canaanites had become so corrupt that they sacrificed their own children in fiery furnaces to their god, Moloch. God is merciful, as he showed in the case of Nineveh. He will forgive those who repent. The Canaanites must have shown themselves unredeemable, because the Lord sent the Israelites to destroy that civilization and claim the land for themselves.

So here they were at the border of Canaan. The Lord told Joshua to send twelve spies into the land to familiarize themselves with it before sending in their troops. The men came back with a glowing report about the land. But then ten of them gave the opinion that they could not conquer this land because some of its inhabitants were giants. Most of the Israelites allowed themselves to be caught up in fear. They spent the night weeping and complaining. By morning they were ready to choose a new leader and return to Egypt.

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, . Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. ” (Numbers 14:5-9 NIV).

Who was right–the ten fearful spies or Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb? The answer is obvious in the story of the first battle (which took place 40 years later–after the doubting generation had been replaced by their children). This battle did not involve giants, but it did require the Israelites to enter the walled city of Jericho. You no doubt know the story: The army walked around the city multiple times. On cue, the priests blew their rams’ horns. The soldiers shouted. And the walls of Jericho crumbled.

Clearly, Joshua and Caleb had known what they were talking about–“Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us” and “Do not be afraid of them because we will devour them.”

The second generation, led by Joshua, cast their vote for God and won big. The first generation cast their vote in the opposite direction and died in the wilderness. In what way did they “vote”? It all boiled down to whom or what they chose to fear.

The second generation–the winners–“feared the Lord.” (Whenever this terminology is used in the Bible it means they had awe and respect for God.) In spite of the unknowns ahead of them, this generation chose to trust the Lord and follow his directions. They put God in charge, and they gained everything He had promised them.

The first generation feared everything but God. By default, the “other entity” took charge of this situation in their lives, and they were big-time losers. They were still God’s people. He had set them free from slavery and continued to care for them miraculously for 40 years. Their clothing and shoes did not wear out and they had manna to eat every day. BUT they missed out on all the blessings He was ready to give them–because they gave into fear of things God was easily able to overcome.

When you find a promise in the Bible that relates to you, expect the enemy of your soul to behave the way he did toward the Israelites camped on the border of Canaan. Expect him to plant a fearful thought or intimidating circumstance in your path to hinder you from believing God and receiving His blessing.

When that happens, what will you do? Will you give in to the fear and let the enemy take charge of that situation? Will you let him do what he does best–“rob, kill, and destroy” the destiny God has for you?

Or will you fear the Lord? Will you purposely remind yourself that God can easily overcome any obstacle? Will you tell yourself that God means what He says? If so, He will remain in charge of that situation in your life, and you will receive “immeasurably more than all” you could “ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

 

P.S. This post can be subtitled “What’s the Hold-Up, Part 3.” We don’t have to be in the dark about why some of our prayers are not answered. God does keep his promises! The Bible shows us how to cooperate with Him to receive them. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Live Large

Do you know you do? Live large, that is. However you interact with life has a ripple effect in the lives of those around you.

That’s what struck me about these verses from 2 Corinthians:

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. . . . Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, 6 NLT).

The Corinthian believers saw that Paul was not devastated by persecution. It gave them the confidence they could hang in there too. Think of it—one person trusted in God during traumatic times . . . and a whole group of people took courage.

One incident is all it takes to impact other people permanently.  One evening after my mother died, my four-year-old mind finally understood she was not coming back—ever. As I wailed, my father held me and cried too. After a long while, he said, “God will make us happy again.” 

God can do that? I thought. It seemed impossible, but Dad said it, so it must be true. . . . Since then trauma has hit me, more than once, but I have never lost hope. I have never had a nervous breakdown. I believe God is good and everything is going to be alright.

Poor attitudes are also passed on to others. A friend told me yesterday about her ex-husband—a man who showed no affection or concern for his family members. Then she told me about his father, who was really callous.

My father purposely passed on to me his confidence in God’s goodness. The father I learned about yesterday just minded his own business. But he passed on his attitudes anyway. I guess that means we will make a mark on the world around us, whether we intend to or not.

How important we are! We are living, not only for ourselves, but for others. Our lives are large. They will live on in our friends and family for generations after we are gone. Makes you want to step up to greater purpose, kindness, and courage, doesn’t it?

 

Making It Personal

  • Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What do you think? Did God put you here to help others? To show others how to live?
  • What good effect have you had on your neighbors, co-workers, and family already? (If you can’t think of anything, ask someone you trust. Ask the Lord to show you.)
  • Which of your attitudes and behavior do you want to improve for ___________’s sake? (Fill in the blank with someone’s name.)