• Richard Parrish

Overcoming “Won’t” Power



At the beginning of January 2019, I shared these thoughts about strengthening our spiritual resolve. Little did I know that only a few months later, our entire world would enter into a season of quarantines and lockdowns. Now as we enter the final quarter of 2021, I feel like these words still resonate, because we need spiritual resolve now more than ever.


The holidays always take their toll on me. My willpower is usually deficient when it comes to passing up the cookies. Where did all this added weight come from, (as if I didn’t know)?


It’s likely that I’m not alone. The mail flyers and television commercials seem to confirm this.


Gym membership opportunities are flooding the mailbox. The before and after pictures displayed on television tempt me to believe that I can miraculously achieve firm “six-pack abs” for as little as $10 a month!


While I might be able to afford the monthly cost, there’s just one problem:


My “won’t power” often exceeds my willpower.


One statistic reveals that only about 18 percent of people who buy [gym] memberships use them consistently. It appears that their “won’t power” is greater than their willpower.


We understand that seeing positive physical results requires willpower. This is also true in our spiritual longing to follow Jesus.


As sure as exercising my body makes it stronger, prayer, Scripture reading, and other spiritual exercises strengthen my soul.


So here’s a question to ask: “How can we strengthen our willpower (the ability to follow through with our resolutions)?”


If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably recognized that trying harder often feeds discouragement. The apostle Paul understands this internal struggle:


“…For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15b)


Our desire to improve our physical fitness, and grow intimately with God is appropriate. And, we’re sincere. However, our flesh (our desire for cookies and for other gods) often overpowers our commitment. So what’s the answer?


First, let’s acknowledge our weaknesses. There’s no shame or embarrassment. Paul writes: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10b).


Next, maintain a proper perspective. Remember, nearly 82 percent of people who have gym memberships are inconsistent. Not every follower of Jesus practices spiritual exercises faithfully.


Having a proper perception helps us see that perfect attendance and practice of physical and spiritual exercise, is not an excuse for us to “opt-out.”


Finally, understand: It’s at the point of our weakness that God reveals his power and grace (1 Cor. 1:27; 2 Cor. 12:9). My weakness only encourages my dependence on God.


Like it or not, I’m off to the gym this morning. And, I’m going to work on some spiritual exercises today. I know I need them.


What spiritual exercises are you practicing?


For guidance and direction on several different spiritual exercises, check out A Simple Pause, a free app for your phone. Each entry lasts about five minutes and offers you the opportunity to slow down and connect with God.


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