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Will We or Will We Not

When you stop to count them, a TON of spiritual traits boil down to good ol' fashioned acts of will. Prayerfulness. Forgiveness. Thankfulness. Selflessness. Love. Even faith.

We love to think of being inherently forgiving or prayerful or full of faith as if it just happens when we've been believers long enough. We look at those around us who excel in certain areas and say, "Well, So-and-So is just naturally forgiving. It's easy for her, much harder for me." We might even let ourselves off the hook.

News flash, y'all. Acts of spiritual maturity derived from the purity of God don't come naturally to any of us puny little humans down here on planet earth.

They start with acts of will.

Take prayer, for example. Do you think the prayer warrior in your life came out of the womb that way? Did she just roll out of bed and think, "All I want to do today is get on my knees and give myself a neckache and pray until both feet fall asleep because I'm just a very prayerful person." Just a shot in the dark here, but I'd guess no. So why does that person spend so much time in prayer?

Because she loves God. She craves Him and desires to be close to Him, so she made that act of will to spend more time in prayer with Him. And by forcing her will into submission, she opened her heart for God to actually change her from the inside out, to give her a love of prayer so that every time she gets on her knees, it becomes less forced, more willing, and even—yes—more natural.

Thankfulness is another example. Some people are more positive than others, but let's face it, the vast majority of humanity doesn't throw their hands up in the air and sing "Praise the Lord!" when they get fired or break a leg or watch their lives crumble around them. I'm part of that majority. 100%. So how can I ever thank God for difficult things if I don't feel thankful?

Believe it or not, God doesn't actually need validation from us. Whether we thank Him or not, He'll keep doing His thing exactly according to plan. But He requires thankfulness from us because we need it—because it tethers us to Him, keeps our eyes turned up to heaven instead of down on the mess around us, helps us to cope, gives us strength, gives us perspective. And it isn't necessarily feeling thankful that does all those things, but choosing to be thankful—the act of will. The feeling will come later, once we've practiced long enough and the act of will starts to be as natural as breathing. As dancing in the rain.

This adventure we're on is not easy. No purely good discipline comes naturally to us, because we are not purely good. But just because prayer or forgiveness or even faith is difficult for you doesn't mean you're exempt from chasing it. That's not an excuse to throw in the towel—oh, I guess it's just not for me.

No. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Every step of this journey is an act of will. Push through. Be thankful today because you should. Forgive someone today because I told you to. Choose to believe in God because it is more right than any other choice you could make. God sees your will just as much as he sees the act, and He will bless it by making you more and more the thankful, forgiving, faithful person you are deciding to be.

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