The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of The Georgia Virtue.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com.
For those who occasionally think about how to maintain and increase the spiritual aspects of your life, we must consider that our decisions are directly associated with accomplishing our destiny. I have thought about this for many years and have come to the conclusion that desire is one of the most critical steps for knowing God. If we have a passionate and unwavering dedication to accomplish something, we have built a solid foundation for the other steps that will follow. However, without fervent enthusiasm, our vision will remain a whim. When it comes to drawing nearer to our Creator, we will discover this is the most difficult challenge we will ever face. Why is it so hard to walk with Christ? One reason is that having a personal relationship with him includes surrendering our control so that he can possess and control us. It’s one thing to work toward such things as weight loss, exercise, or training for a sport as we are only in a battle against our bodies to succeed. Granted, these are serious challenges but when we become obsessed with advancing into God, we will face resistance from our old nature, the need to renew our mind, and a hostile devil who hates us and does not want us to be victorious.
There is no doubt that many people are lukewarm in their spiritual life. It’s true, we all have times when we drift a little or become distracted from the Lord, however, there is a serious problem when we are satisfied with a mediocre relationship with God. I have discovered in my own life that it is much easier to live in the outer courts than to be a cup-bearer for the king. Honestly, it’s simply a case of not wanting to sacrifice our time or our pleasures just to have a more intimate connection with him and we are all guilty. Our rebellion refuses to pay the price that is required for a sanctified lifestyle. I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was telling me about a new diet he had been following for the last few months. He was proud of his accomplishments and went on to explain that when he started out, some of his family and friends scoffed and said he could never do it because of his reputation for being a foodaholic. Then he mentioned something that caught my attention. He said, “I became so focused and my determination became so strong, I demanded my body to obey my will. In the last three months, I have lost 32 pounds and I’m only getting started.”
I am very impressed with this level of infatuation and congratulated him for finding such relentless perseverance. At the same time, I thought about how spiritually mature every Christian could be if we decided to become this serious about concentrating on the awareness of God’s presence. One of the greatest revelations I have discovered is that we can live as close to God as we want, and this brings us back to our desperate need for desire. So, if failing to achieve our goals is caused by a shortage of fervency and self-discipline, where can we find it? God gives it to those who ask for it. It’s true, with certain situations there are other factors that can make a difference, but when it comes to developing a personal relationship with God, the opportunity is available and nothing is preventing us from knowing and loving him except our will. In Matthew chapter 5, one of the beatitudes says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” For each person, questions remain: “Do you have a relentless craving to walk with God and how important is it for you to know him?” I was watching a football game the other night, and the coaches were fiercely challenging their team to dig deep within themselves and find the raging fires of desire. They were looking at each player in the eyes and asking how much do you want to be victorious? Have you ever sensed the Holy Spirit convicting you with the same question? We can inspire others but the intriguing reality about motivation is that no one can force another person to change their mind. Most people only want enough of God to go to heaven but do not love him enough to become who He has called them to be.