Wrestling and Willpower

19 05 2009

Have you ever had an arm wrestle with someone of similar strength? Willpower wins the wrestling. Where do you get will power? Is it natural? 

We might talk about willpower, in relation to giving up cigarettes, or going on some sort of a diet, or training for a highly competitive sporting event.  How do we feel, however, about the application of will power in order to embrace suffering for the benefit of someone else?

We might think of will-power as an admirable quality, but something we lack a bit in, ourselves. 

Consider: every day we exercise our willpower. We decide to do this, and not do that. We sometimes feels torn between two loyalties that we hold of similar value—two agenda’s in conflict with one another, at a point in time—and we have to choose.

We often choose our own preference, rather than consider either

(i) the needs of others, or

(ii) the will of God

The way of life, for a human being is not ‘in himself’. It is rather, what am I being called unt0, at this point, by God.

Jeremiah said: I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:2 )


Jesus said: “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me (John 5:30)


This is a different approach, almost the opposite in fact, to that sung by ol’d blue eyes: ‘I did it my way’.  Frank Sanatra is often played at a funeral. It is designed to acknowledge the unique, even strange-unfathomable will of a person, in life. However, it is at times used, almost to underline the fierce attitude of autonomy and independence. 

This is a pity:

 Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

 For the God of all things, has made us to come under Christ Jesus’ Lordship.

All our lives may be a wrestling to avoid this.

We may need some open-heart surgery, as we wrestle with Christ the true Son, and wrestle with the Father, the true director of lives, for blessing—in order that our will with God, may indeed be wholly One.  What a wrestle our lives can be! 

 We do not come at it, naturally. It is a wrestle with the flesh (that stubborn self-will), to move with God in the often difficult, sometimes-surprising, yet very loving action of the Holy Spirit.

 What an incredible thing Jesus did, throughout his life, and his ministry, his sufferings and his death – even his resurrection.  He did not do merely his own will. His will was united with the Father, so that everything he said and did – issued in live, originated in love, and was the expression of holy love. Love that loves according to the truth. Love that loves according to grace. Love that comes into the world bringing mercy to people; yet love that is tough, steely, rich, burning to the conscience. Love for the Father’s will motivated Jesus, all the time. Wow! A Will given over to to the Father’s will. This is freedom?  

 Imagine that?

 Jesus came to do the will of the Father, to stand with the Father, and to do his will.  Wow. Image that? Doing the will of another, wholly united.  Jesus was seeking to know and do that will in the Garden, while he was dying. He was not suffering the resistance of unwilling flesh, surely. It was more like groping confusion in the anguish of the sin bearing which was his alone.

 As a forerunner to our life, today, the Father strengthened Jesus, by his Spirit, for the work of the cross. Now, in imparting his Spirit, to us, who believe, he has strengthened us to do his will.

What wrestling that can be.  For the disciples it included their inability to stay up and wrestle with tiredness. They were overcome by the weight of it all. Jesus was not. He wanted them to wrestle in prayer.

 Have you ever wrestled in prayer? 

You may think arm-wrestling needs willpower. What of prayer?

Consider: Jacob wrestled all night with God, and finally received the blessing, of doing God’s will. He walked with a limp afterwards, because he had fought with God. It was to remember the event.

We – I believe – need to wrestle with God (much of our life perhaps), until we are prepared to do his will. Rebels, can scarcely do the Father’s will, willingly.

 Consider: Abraham, believing in the God of eternal life, was yet prepared to kill his only big, grown son as a sacrifice, to do God’s will – to receive the blessings of God. But even Isaac must have been willing, as he was walking up the hill with his Dad.  They had no sacrifice with them. (In the end God proved a ram from the thicket). 

 “I can will what is right”, said the Apostle Paul. But doing it, accomplishing it, effecting it, was much more difficult. Indeed impossible ultimately in all things. This Paul saw, was due to the ever-present nature of sin. Sin affects motives, judgment, ideas, aims, senses. Even so, being willing is a great thing. Indeed in Christ, with His Spirit we are set up to do God’s will. 

 What a mighty thing to be able to will what is right (even if we can never quite totally accomplish it!).

Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.

 Dear folks, thanks be to the Warrior Lord—Jesus Christ, for his willpower, set to do the Father’s will.  But always aided by the Holy Spirit.  

Be aided, wrestle to know! “There is rest in the wrestling”, said one wise man.

 Coming to Jesus humbles us to live by another tune, and plan. The grace-tune, the grace-plan, the Spirit-led plan, the love-plan. May the Lord Risen and Present, strengthen you to do his will, to wrestle and find willpower, from God, to amazing make good choices. May grace be upon your weakness too.  Wrestling, with love willpower – Jesus was and is amazing for his clear approach to live truly, in all circumstances. What a wrestler. What authority. What redemptive power, for the human race, lies in wrestling for that which is true, amidst a broken, rebellious world. Cheers!

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