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  • Sanyade Okoli

The Battle of Wills




A stream of consciousness (sufficiently coherent, hopefully relatable, but definitely lacking in elegance 😊)


In the last few weeks, the Lord has been making some “moves” that have left me wondering:


Is He dependable?

Is He fully trustworthy?

Is He fully fully good?


He has really been coming across as, shall we say, unpredictable ……….


So, what did I do? After having a good cry, I moved on to sulking and not speaking much to Him, then I “progressed” to “dragging with Him”. You may laugh but that’s the truth. 😊


But thank God He is God. In His mercy, after a few days of my tantrums (which included writing a lamentation, by the way! 😀) He gave me a glimpse into one of the reasons things may not have been working out as I had hoped and expected.


That definitely softened me up a bit. At least enough for me to start talking to Him like the father and friend that He is. After all, as upset as I may have been, He is still “De Main, De Main”. 😊


As I started seeking the Lord on the matter, He in turn started shedding light on the underlying issue in a form that I can only describe as a stream of consciousness – a flow of thoughts (under the influence of His presence). Not the most structured, I know; just let the Lord speak to you through them as He desires.


He first started by explaining that I was seeing things from my perspective and not His. We forget that our perspective is completely incomplete whereas He sees the big picture. Not just for our lives but for those within our spheres of influence - past, present and future.


We don’t realise that He is making decisions in our lives that not only affect us but also affect others. If He only looked from the perspective of the one individual, then Christ would not have died for us all. The Father would have looked at the pain and humiliation that His Son, Jesus, was to go through and relent on behalf of Him. How disastrous would that have been for us all?!


We have no idea who He is preparing us to be a blessing to; what He is preparing us for. Sometimes the pain we go through is required to properly steward the blessings we are to receive. Without God preparing us appropriately, some of His blessings could destroy us, our loved ones, our businesses, our ministries, etc.


He went on to explain that trust is when we are willing to relinquish the right to make decisions for ourselves and we honour and respect the decisions He makes on our behalf, believing that if He chooses that path then it must be the best path for us.


It is not easy because we see with our natural eyes, computing things and making decisions on that basis. It takes great maturity to depend solely on our spiritual sight and subdue our natural minds.


Paradoxically, going through tests and challenges help to develop our spiritual insides.

Sometimes I worry that I may not have prayed enough about a matter for it to come to pass. Could it be that I sub-consciously believe that good things happening in my life are solely dependent on me and my actions?


I sense the Lord saying that on each matter, we should come to Him asking Him for His heart on it and then pray accordingly. We should come to Him, get His truth and word on the subject, and then go on to declare His words in prayer until we see the manifestation.


I realise that part of why I would be hesitant to use this approach is fear; fear of Him saying no. Fear of Him giving the “wrong answer”. Fear of God not “cooperating with me.” Hmmm.... I guess that’s it, isn’t it?! That perpetual battle - His will versus mine! Mine is mine and His is His. Sometimes His works for me and sometimes not.... That really is the bottom line.


So when I say that I don’t fully trust God, I guess I am saying that I don’t trust Him to do what I want, when I want, how I want.


For that to change, I have to die to myself, to my will. But I’ve done that so many times before already!! Surely I can’t be deader than I am?! Surely not!! How many times must I die for God to consider me truly dead?!


Something tells me, that quiet voice within me, that I will keep dying until I eventually die. When I no longer have a will on earth to contend with His.


The truth is, as much as I want my will to come to pass all the time, I shudder to think of the outcome of my will prevailing over God’s. Some battles are not worth winning; some opponents you are best not conquering.


In that case, Father God, please give me the grace to keep dying until I die. Please help me to recognize when my will is contending with yours and help me to graciously let go. God, please give me the grace to endure as You perfect me in Christ. Please give me the grace to wait for Your perfect will to come to pass in my life. More grace Lord, more grace! 🙏🏾


It’s not that having a will is bad; after all God gave us a will. It’s just that God wants our will to conform to His. If we think about it, we have a will that is fed by our mind and emotions. So we should constantly be asking ourselves what underpins our will, our desires. Sometimes it is completely pure and healthy, other times, however, it can be fueled by fear, by pride, by anger, by hatred; a myriad of things.


He wants us to commit our desires to Him and rest in the knowledge that He will do the right thing - the best thing at the best time.

I think I know what I am meant to do to move forward….. I think I know but I don’t like it one bit. In fact, as I think about it now it unsettles my insides. Actually, if I am honest with myself, it almost upsets me.


I know what it is because He just whispered it to my heart. It’s that scripture about taking up our cross every day. When I looked it up, I had to chuckle and shake my head the way we do when we know we have been lovingly defeated. As the Yorubas say “Lobatan!” Krio man say, “Case close!” If you're going to insist I write in English, then, "Enough said!" I think I have had to say it in three languages to reinforce the point to myself. 😀


“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” Luke 9:23-25 NLT:


What can I say?! How can I argue with that?!


If I want to be His follower (which I want to), then I must give up my own way (which I don’t want to). I must take up my cross daily.


I think what also irks me is that He gives us a choice. Yet for someone like me, it’s a false choice! Not being His follower isn’t a choice. Following Christ may not always be comfortable; in fact, sometimes it is plain painful. But deep down I know that the alternative will be worse; even if not for me, for my loved ones, especially my children.


Also, it’s not just that I fear the alternative, it’s that I love Him. I guess I am learning that as He and I build a more intimate and authentic relationship, loving Him and trying to trust Him wouldn’t always mean that I will be happy with Him. It wouldn’t mean that I wouldn’t question some of His decisions (I shall try to do so respectfully, of course 😊). It certainly doesn’t mean that things will always pan out the way I want. Again, therein lies the issue – that disconnect between my will and His.


As I write this (with teary eyes, I dare add) I think that I am getting clearer on what it’s all about; what God wants me to do. Taking up my cross daily is the equivalent of doing a trust-fall with Him standing behind me every morning. Making the daily decision to fall backwards into His arms in total surrender, fully trusting and believing that He’s got me. Daily entering into His rest because I have yielded everything to Him. Hmmmm……..


Why am I so willing to benefit from the work that Christ did on the cross - His pain, His humiliation, His rejection, His death - yet I am unwilling to do the little He asks of me? To trust Him each day and allow Him to lead - my life, my children’s lives, my husband’s life, my career, my relationships, etc. Why is it so difficult to yield completely? Why must I “drag with Him” on so many issues?


I think I know... I think it’s because I don’t know Him enough to completely trust Him. Because, to know Him is to love Him. To know Him is to trust Him. To know Him is to yield to Him. To know Him.... To know Him completely.


So that’s it.... I must press in to know Him more and more deeply. Through His word, through spending time in His presence, through meditation, etc.

To know His heart.

To know His ways.

To know Him in spirit and in truth.

Not out of religion but out of relationship.

To know Him myself; not God as presented to me by others, but God as presented to me by Himself.

To identify, challenge and overturn all the lies I have believed about Him.

To pursue Him with the vigor and heady anticipation of new lovers.

To know Him.

Yes, to truly know Him.


Father God, I ask that you reveal yourself to me.

Reflections


  • In partnership with the Holy Spirit, reflect on the areas of your life where you have been contending with God’s will.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the underlying reason for your contention (e.g. what are you scared of?)

  • Hand the areas of contention and the underlying emotions (e.g. fear) to God.

  • Ask Father God what lie you have been believing about Him.

  • Ask Him who you need to forgive for learning the lie.

  • Forgive the person.

  • Ask Father God for His truth is on the matter.


Reflective Prayers


Father God, I pray that You will give me spiritual wisdom and insight so that I might grow in my knowledge of You. I pray that my heart will be flooded with light so that I can understand the confident hope You have given to those of us You called—Your holy people who are Your rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that I will understand the incredible greatness of Your power for us who believe You. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at Your right hand in the heavenly realms. Now Jesus is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. You, Father God, have put all things under the authority of Christ and have made Him head over all things for the benefit of the church, including me. Thank you Lord because You have also raised me along with Christ and seated me with Him in the heavenly realms because I am united with Christ Jesus. Please open my eyes to recognise my position and authority in Christ.

Adapted from Ephesians 1:16-22 and Ephesians 2:6 (NLT)


Father God, I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources You will empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit. I pray that Christ will make His home in my heart as I trust in Him. Lord, please let my roots grow deep down into Your love and keep me strong. And may I have the power to understand, as all Your people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love for me is. May I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from You. I pray that through Your mighty power at work within me, You will accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think.

Adapted from Ephesians 3:16-20

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