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My legs and abs hate the idea; my mind isn’t too supportive when the alarm goes off early.
I’m trying to re-start the habit of exercising.

When you’re in the cycle of exercise, your body feels great, you have more energy, and your whole mood is changed. When you get out of the habit, your energy tanks, your mood can drop and your brain gets fuzzy.

We don’t have energy, so we don’t exercise – yet in order to get energy, we have to exercise! What a vicious circle!

What stands in the middle to help break that unfortunate cycle?

As I’ve been thinking about various habits I either need to start or discard in my life, I keep thinking about a college professor I had. She said we often tell people what they need to do and then berate them when they don’t do it. Have we ever stopped to question whether or not they are capable of doing what we’ve told them they should do?

The thing that stands between our knowledge of what we should do and actually doing it is the will.

  • Knowing I should begin to tithe and actually writing out the check is an act of the will.
  • Knowing I should show love and kindness to my spouse and actually considering them before myself is an act of the will.
  • Knowing I should choose joy and actually rejoicing in my trials and setting my mind on what is pure, good and praiseworthy is an act of the will.
  • In short, obedience is an act of the will.

Yet our wills are so weak. We know what we should do. But the actual doing of it gets lost in the pressing demands of the day’s schedule or whatever is easiest.

But how can I fix my will? I can’t just say, “Well, just fix it! Start doing what you know you should!” because that’s the problem! The bridge between knowing what I should do and actually doing it is a rickety one at best.

This conundrum might be depressing, if it wasn’t that we should’ve known this already! Isn’t the whole point of the gospel that we can’t fix ourselves?

Who rescues us from a mind that knows what is good, but a body that’s dead when it comes to choosing to do so? “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:25)

Slowly, slowly, Christ is shaping our will to be one that is strengthened to do what we know we should. The restoring of a will that was dead to goodness happens under God’s good grace and careful, refining work. Sometimes that restoration has to happen with a counselor or a friend to guide us through and hold us accountable. But it never happens apart from God’s reviving power.

So as I look at the negative cycles in my own life, I’m learning to bring them to Christ and say, “Look, this part of me is broken. I’m unable to act upon what I know is right. Will you please give my will Your strength to do what I should? So that I have the strength like you did to say, ‘Not, in fact, my will – but Yours be done!’”

Do I still have to engage that prayed-over will at six tomorrow morning when I know it’s time to get up and do some maintenance on this temple of the Holy Spirit? Unfortunately… yes…

Am I waking up to the task of obedience alone?

Blessedly… no.