Willing or Wanting?

Published on Feb 19th, 2014 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
Willing or Wanting?

Willing or Wanting?

We have two girls staying with us from Korea.  They are attending a winter camp at New Jersey United Christian Academy (a local Christian school).  They stay in host homes in order to get a better USA experience and to practice their English.  With our moose head hanging in our living room, I think we have given them a bit of an over the top experience.  This past Saturday they were “home” all day so we told them that we would take them to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell.  Recently, I have been praying that God would reveal areas of my heart that I need to allow him to change.  He used this situation with the girls to reveal something about my heart.  I was willing to take the girls to Philadelphia.  After all, it was my idea.  If anyone were to ask me, I would have told them that it is what a good host does and I thought the girls would enjoy it. It is another All-American experience.  The day before we were to go to Philly was Valentine’s Day.  We all went out to dinner and then to my in-laws where the ladies played a game and the men watched American Pickers.  (I know, over the top romantic evening but it was also my anniversary so I pulled out all the stops).  We arrived home a little late and I heard myself telling the girls that we were going to Philadelphia tomorrow…unless the snow stopped us.  I looked at the weather and they were calling for rain that would turn to snow right around the time we would be coming home from Philadelphia.  They were calling for one to three inches of snow.  The next morning I woke up and things were looking a little cloudy.  I again looked at the weather and the forecast was the same.  I explained to the girls that we did not want to try and drive home in a snow storm so maybe we should just go to a movie instead. Even as I said this to the girls I realized that I was not trying to convince them it was a bad idea to travel to Philly.  They were kind enough to accept whatever decision I would make.  I was really trying to ease my guilty conscience because I knew that the snow might be a nuisance but if I really wanted to go…the snow would not be a show stopper.

I began to meditate on that truth.  There is a huge difference between being willing and wanting.  Wanting does not look for reasons not to, but finds ways to do something.  Willing is often stopped by the easiest things.  The men in Mark 2 really wanted to get their friend to Jesus.  They did not allow a crowd to stop them.  They simply cut a hole in the roof to get him to Jesus.  I believe these truths are often what cause relationships to drift apart.  You may be willing to but if your spouse wants to that will eventually cause distance to come between you. Your spouse will constantly be looking for ways to…but you will often be easily stopped because you are only willing.  Discussions will lead to nowhere because you argue that you are willing, and you are, but willing is different from want to.  It happens with our children.  You are willing to play catch with your son but your son wants to play catch.  He asks often but you often find reasons not to.  Each time you find reasons not to your son looks elsewhere to play catch or his heart is crushed just a little bit.  Eventually you will find that you want to and he has lost interest and now wants to do other things with other people.  (For us old guys it is the Cat’s in the Cradle song!)  The same is true with God.  You may be willing to spend time with him or to corporately worship him but how many things keep you from doing just that? (I admit, you may need to read that paragraph again…some weird wording but I think it makes the point.)

Paul says in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  God gives us a willing heart.  You would have no desire to spend time with him or obey him if he did not plant within you a willing heart.  But what are you doing with that willing heart?  Are you satisfied with simply being willing?  We might be satisfied with honestly being able to tell God that we were willing to…but…got in the way.  Only being willing causes us to look at statistics.  “Well, at least I was able to…half the time.”  When we find our heart wanting we just can’t get enough.  We don’t look at statistics of what we have done but we find our hearts longing for the next opportunity.  In relationships where one is willing and the other is wanting it does not take long for the one willing to drag the one wanting down.  What we need to rejoice in is that in our relationship with God, he is always wanting and we will never drag him down by our willing.

Let me close this out with two other thoughts.  Another way to see your heart is to understand that we are always wanting something more than we are willing something else. For instance, I was willing to go to Philadelphia but I was really wanting to not have to drive around all day.  We are often willing to obey God but we are also wanting what we want more. When we look at it that way we realize that those things we want are idols and will draw us away from a close walk with God.

Lastly, I think we need to think about how we can go from willing to wanting.  I do not want to drift from God.  I want to want what he wants so that our hearts are one.  Same with my spouse.  My children.  My friends.  Philippines 2:13 reminds us that if we submit to God that he will also do the work in and through us.  We can do this in his strength, even if we are not wanting.  But I still want to.  The verse that has helped me with this is Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  If I allow the Spirit of God to show me my heart when I find myself willing but making excuses, then I ask the Spirit to strengthen me to follow through with what I am willing to do, then I place my treasure of time or desires into that which I know I should do, then eventually my heart follows.  (Might need to read that one again also!)  I find that I want to.  For instance, the more I choose to play catch with my son the more I find that it is so much more than playing catch.  I see the look of joy on my son’s face as I realize he is doing something he enjoys.  I find that I am enjoying his joy and soon I find that I look forward to that time.  I find that I want to.  Give it a try.  Start placing your treasure into those good things that you are willing to do but maybe have found yourself finding reasons not to.  You will soon find relationships drawing closer together.

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