Warm Wednesday Words: Willpower – An Unsung Hero

I canWillpower is much more then it’s often cracked up to be.  Whether it’s willpower to eat healthy, get fit, quit smoking, only drink in moderation, control anger, be humble, not gossip, resist hidden sins, etc, willpower leads to victory.  For those of us who know the Lord, calling on Him to help us packs a powerful punch to our enemy, the devil, who would sabotage our goals.  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  (Isa. 40:29-31a)  When we are wise enough to acknowledge that God’s Word has the absolute truths that may be distorted by our own perspective, we can add more power to our prayers by praying and believing, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Look to the Lord's strengthDiet is probably the most trivial example to use; however, in many social settings successful dieting and fitness is, by example, a colossal failure.  If someone really wants to lose weight, then that must become the focus and most jokes of food indulgence and no time for exercise need to bite the dust in favor of  long term genuine effort.  Just replace any other more serious matter (admittedly by culture’s standards) and insert the efforts, excuses and failures that we laugh about with diet and fitness, and you will agree it is an area whose successful example potential is largely a loss to offering any kind of real example to the harder areas such as serious addictions, hidden sins, etc.  In most social settings, we acclaim the one laden with food dripping with grease and loaded with carbs rather than the one with any kind of dietary willpower.

find a wayI belong to some online social support systems for the food lifestyle we have adopted (Trim Healthy Mama).  On these sites, as on other similar food lifestyles, members are encouraged to post prayer requests, pictures of progress, etc.  The comment strands of encouragement are usually too long to read them all.  The support I have gained in other  online Christian women support groups is also amazing.  We are lifetime friends and constantly lend each other strength with our prayers and words.  There are many other noteworthy types of support groups (both online and otherwise) that lend strength and foster willpower, such as for homeschooling, sports, writing,  marriage, parenting, debt reduction, recovering alcoholics, grief support, widow groups, and on and on.   Some of these support systems can be found within churches or church small groups as well.

someone believes in youAs believers, we have an added boost to will power (or perhaps the other way around) in our conscience.  Oswald Chambers said in his 5/13 Utmost devotional, “God always educates us down to the scruple.  Is my ear so keen to hear the tiniest whisper of the Spirit that I know what I should do?…The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to Him on the inside.  When there is any debate, quit.”  If it seems we can’t find our way, we can pray about what, if any, counsel God would have us seek.  When we are truly seeking counsel for our own selves and not using the seeking of counsel as a cover up for gossip; and in fact, are refraining entirely from gossip, then our efforts will be blessed.  “Where there is no guidance a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  (Prov. 11:14)  C.S. Lewis said, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”  Hopefully, we will have ample opportunity to offer good counsel, not just receive it.  “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked lead them astray.” (Prov. 12:26)

build upTo have supportive friends who help strengthen you with their words and prayers is good.  Even better is to have a friend or a few friends who are close enough in proximity to put action to their words and hang in there with you through a period of your life when you need strength.   “And Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’  But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’  So they went down to Bethel.”

true friendshipWhat areas of your life do you need strength and willpower in to make it through?  What support are you seeking for that?  Are you listening for the tiniest whisper of the Spirit?  Who around you needs to lean on your strength for a season and are you able to give it?  Are you able to inconvenience your own plans in support of a friend?

 

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Warm Wednesday Words: What is Needed in the Storm

friends pick us up

I’m going through a season of storms, changes and stretches in my life, and so are several of my friends.  Looking back I know that God put many details in place in my life in preparation for this time.  That He did this and impressed several scriptural promises on me beforehand gives me confidence as I walk this path.  Just as I take shelter in a physical storm, I often take shelter in stormy life seasons.  I allow myself the privilege of being hidden in Christ in more meaningful ways then times of “clear skies”.  Making time for deeper and more personal Bible study, reading, journaling, prayer time and worship are all helpful during life storms, even if I have to give up on something I normally make time for.  Just as in a physical storm I might not put myself in the same places as in clear weather for practical and safety reasons, so in a life storm I allow myself to pursue supports that are helpful and loyal, and am cautious about places that may be hurtful.

storms change usOther then my sweet and dependable family members, who I do not take for granted, and especially my husband who prays often while he drives during the day and who is a great listener,  God put other supports in place. They would include prayer warriors, those who encourage, concerned and empathetic listeners, good church leaders and teachers, a generous friend or two offering their skill sets, and a mentor who pours herself into exhorting me and believing in me when I need it the most.  She often asks me to choose her role for the eye of the storm, and if it’s possible she fulfills it.  All of these supports are just the vessels God has used to pour out His love.  They are special, very, very special, but they simply point to a personal God who seems to be saying through them, “It is Me!  I am with you in this storm.

your silent presenceOswald Chambers said (Aug 12 “My Utmost for His Highest”), ‘There are stages in life when…a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely.  If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.”

blessing while going through your own stormWhen Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He didn’t suddenly run out of energy when he asked Lazarus’s friends to remove the grave clothes.  He wanted them to be a part of the burden bearing and therefore the bonds that come about from shared burdens and the joy that comes about from answered prayer and miracles.  What is needed in the storm are supports that get us through.  And, interestingly, this is a mutual need and blessing.  What supports has God put in your life to get you through stormy seasons?  Do you see Him in them?  How do you provide support for your friends when they are in a stormy season?