Willing to be Willing to be Willing
Many times in our lives when presented with the opportunity to follow our Lord, we quickly affirm His Lordship and are willing to respond in a way that pleases Him. This may involve use of the spiritual gifts which He has bestowed upon us, or it may represent a venture into a new area for us. It may involve a local commitment, or it may take us overseas. The trust we have in the Lord enables us to respond and follow Him. The scriptures also attest to the willingness of many. The apostle Matthew left his tax collecting business. Peter and Andrew left their fishing boats. Elisha slaughtered his oxen and followed Elijah.
Scripture also attests to the presence of those who were not willing initially, but were willing to be willing. Their initial reluctance through fear or lack of faith was overcome as they subsequently obeyed the Lord. One of these was Gideon, who was not willing to lead his brothers into battle, yet was willing to be convinced of the Lord’s presence and power as his faith was bolstered with answered prayer concerning the fleece. In Luke 5, Peter initially was reluctant to put out into the deep water and go fishing, stating that they had already fished all night and had caught nothing. He was willing to be willing however as he said to the Lord, “Nevertheless, because you say so, we will do it.” Ananias, through fear of Saul, was not willing to anoint him and pray for him as the Lord had commanded. He was, however, willing to be willing, and responded to the Lord’s repeated command to go.
Moses responded to God with His initial call to go to Pharaoh in Exodus with the question “Who am I?” When told again by God to go, his answer was “What if?” After a series of demonstrated miracles, he was again told to go. His reply at this time was “O Lord, I have never been eloquent…” The Lord answered him and then commanded him “Now go!” Moses’ reply was “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Moses initially was not willing, but was at least willing to be willing. He finally agreed to follow the Lord’s command.
Lorne recognized that we are not always willing, and at times are not even willing to be willing. This may be due to fear, lack of faith, or even rebellion in our lives. If we find ourselves in this position, Lorne states that we should at least be willing to be willing to be willing. What would it look like to be willing to be willing to be willing? It can perhaps be characterized by what we do with our unwilling spirit. Are we willing to bring our unwillingness to the Lord? Are we willing to bring our unwillingness to the scriptures?
Years ago, I was asked by a friend to meet with a man who was an alcoholic. He had been convicted of vehicular manslaughter and had spent a number of years in prison. Following his release, he had been homeless, basically living in dumpsters, following his alcoholic lifestyle. When I met him, he was hostile to the person of Christ and had numerous objections to the gospel. He was unwilling to be willing to the message of the gospel. He was willing, however, to meet weekly with me and look at the Gospel of John together, even though he did not believe the truth of the scriptures, nor did he believe they had any relevance to his life. Over the next year, the Sword of the Spirit did its work, convicting this man of sin and righteousness and judgment, bringing him to the Lord. He had brought his unwilling spirit to the right place-to the scriptures themselves.
In the Gospel of Mark, we see two individuals who were willing to bring their doubts, their fears, and their lack of faith to Jesus. In the one case, it was a leper. He did not doubt the ability of the Lord, but he doubted the Lord’s willingness to heal him. He stated “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40) The second man, who had brought his son to Jesus, had doubts as to Jesus ability. He said ”But if you can do anything take pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22). We also may at times have an unwillingness to follow Him through lack of faith in His power or in His desire to guide us. If we bring our doubts to Him, however, He assures us through His word in Psalms 62:11. “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: That you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.”
Have you experienced an unwillingness to follow the Lord due to lack of faith? Are you hesitant to be willing in some areas due to doubt as to His ability or his desire to do that in your life which would glorify Him and which is for your eternal good? Are you unwilling to be willing in some area? When this occurs, we should be willing to be willing to be willing. We must bring our doubts, our lack of faith to Him and to His word. Philippians 2:13 reminds us that “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” If we place our unwilling hearts in His hands, he will change them into willing hearts.