Random Blog Clay Feet: October 20, 2008
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Motivating the Will

I read an article in a newsletter recently that I found very interesting and enlightening. It had to do with the role of our will which has been a favorite topic of discussion among my people for very many years. However, it has also been at the center of a great deal of misunderstanding about how to properly relate to God, how to live as a “successful” Christian and is also at the center of the practice of legalism. Most people assume that we have to fulfill certain requirements in order to get God to save us and these requirements entail exercising enough will-power to fulfill them correctly. Of course this also sets one up for a great deal of discouragement as well as feeding into the cultivation of a lot of hidden pride.

As I read this article I remembered many of the typical assertions and quotations bantered about during many discussions of this subject. But suddenly the author took an unexpected turn and began to explain something that I myself have been discovering over the past few years in my own experience. When these two subjects were put together I was amazed at the perfect fit that could be seen. And it also got me to thinking about it subconsciously which is often the case after learning about something very compelling.

What came to my mind a couple nights ago (quite inconveniently just after I had gotten into bed) shortly after reading this was the thought that there are two ways to motivate our will to make decisions. As with pretty much everything in this life, there is an authentic way to live and think and believe that we were designed for by God and then there is a compelling counterfeit that is usually much more familiar to us that we often assume is the right way. Of course this would definitely be the case with something so important and central to our life and our well-being as our will.

What came to my mind were these two ways to motivate my will. First and most common, I can be induced to make decisions based on fear. This mode of motivation is a driving kind of force from behind me that intimidates my will to make decisions in a certain direction. Whenever I am using my will from this basis the resulting decisions will also take on a certain flavor in the process, a certain hue that will be incorporated into all of my life and thinking and the atmosphere that surrounds me.

Secondly, there is a less-known alternative for this kind of living but one that I am coming to believe is the truly authentic way that God intends for His children to live. This is where the will operates by the principle of attraction instead of being driven. A will that makes decisions under the influence of attraction involving the affections instead of fear and avoidance will also take on a certain atmosphere that will color and flavor the whole life with its influence.

These two principles can both be very strong motivations but are opposite in their relationship to our will. Being driven and being attracted conjure up mental pictures of something being pushed from behind by force verses something being pulled from in front by something more magnetic in nature rather than brute force from behind. I hope I am explaining this adequately since it is difficult at times to reduce into words things that seem much more clear internally.

What I have observed over the years is that many people believe that we need a mixture of these two motivations in order to have all the incentive possible in order to get ourselves into heaven. This is why the carrot and stick approach has so much credibility. Of course, to most people it appears that fear is the far more powerful motivator and so we tend to dwell on things that frighten ourselves and each other in order to compel right action of the will, or at least what we think it will be right action. I believe that if we can get honest enough to discover what really motivates us inside most of the time that we will discover that most all of us rely largely on fear to get us to make difficult decisions.

I know that I have discovered even recently upon careful reflection that I too often wait until the fear factor rises to a high enough level of discomfort before I am willing to face a tough decision or make a hard choice. This is so common that it is accepted as the way we are supposed to live. But now I am seriously beginning to question that premise. Just because it has always been that way does not necessarily make it right.

Living a life dependent on fear motivation is to live a life comfortable with being enslaved. People who have been slaves all of their life many times have no concept of what freedom might look and feel like and so sometimes they come to believe that they are not really under slavery at all. Because the status quo feels so familiar it is difficult to believe that God has something radically better for us to experience and so we tend to morph the words of God to fit our current assumptions and embrace a religion that is more in our own image than reflective of the true character of our Father in heaven.

But as I begin to get a taste of the better wine offered by Jesus and as my understanding of the real truth about God has begun to change radically over the past few years, I have been forced to challenge all of my assumptions about what I think is real and how to live life in true freedom. And one of the conclusions that I am coming to is that God does not want me to continue living dependent on the driving force of fear as the compulsion for my will. God's ways are not man's ways, and when I begin to experience the superior power and results of exercising my will from a motivation of attraction, the attraction of my affections toward a God whom I am beginning to really perceive with my heart actually loves me with unconditional love, I am starting to see more clearly the danger of continuing to depend on fear to be the fuel for my will.

I will not assert that God never utilizes our fears to initiate our movement toward serving Him and experiencing His passion for us. But what I have learned is that while God may often start our relationship with Him from where we are currently in fear, He never wants us to remain in that enslaved condition as the norm for our new life in Christ. We may start out making choices to accept God's grace, forgiveness and power in our lives from reasons motivated largely by fear. But if we do not learn to soon move past those elementary and selfish motivations we will find that our experience will become stunted and dwarfed and stagnant. For the Christian life will always lead us toward true freedom and that freedom is mainly the freedom from all fear. Perfect love casts out all fear.

I want to not only learn more about this new way of thinking, living and motivation for my will, but much more importantly I want to experience from the heart this new way of making decisions based purely on attraction instead of on fear. I want my affections and thoughts and heart to feel the magnetic power of being drawn to the powerful passion that emanates from God's heart for me that I am now only dimly starting to perceive. I am tired of depending on fear to keep me moving forward. And I am tired of the debilitating effects that fear has to drain my energies and leave me feeling tired and exhausted from trying to fight against evil in my life.

I believe that as I find how to exercise my will using the correct motivations that attract me toward God that I will find myself maybe actually being energized in fighting the good fight of faith. Somehow I sense that the closer I draw to the Source of all energy and life and as my will is attracted to His beauties and amazing attributes that my chains of fear and apprehension and even depression will lose their power over me and I will experience more and more fully the abundant life that Jesus promised for all who would come to Him.

"They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:16-17)

Thank-you Jesus. I accept this truth from You and crave to drink from this water of life. Fill me with fresh revelations of Your truth, Your beauty and Your magnetic passion. And use me to be an agent of attraction to draw others to You as well.