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I used to run up a hill as part of my athletic training. My goal was to make it to the top without stopping. After repeated failures, I started a game with myself. The hill was an evil inquisitor, trying to force me to deny my faith. If I stopped, I had denied Christ.

Day after day I headed out determined not to give in. But the desert sun would inevitably wear away that resolve and leave me beaten before I reached the top. I never fainted, nor did I develop cramps; I did not have serious breathing problems; I even allowed myself to drop the pace to the slowest possible jog. But still there came that point when my will was exhausted and I refused to keep running.

Like Peter, who vowed he would never deny Christ, I found I was made of pretty weak stuff. (Luke 22:34)

I could never accept the teaching that my will plays no role in my salvation, that I am just a puppet, destined to be good or evil at the whim of God. But that experience on the hill taught me not to accept that my salvation rests entirely on my willpower either.

Purely intellectual idealism is easy... but it frequently fails to produce the goods when they are most needed. We each depend ultimately on the grace of God to make it through... although we are frequently unaware of it.

There may be a day when we have to face torture for our faith. But there are other tools of deception to turn us away from God in the meantime. Too much arrogance about how faithful we will be in the future can be all it takes to lead us to our spiritual end.

WillingToBeThose of us who believe that we can guarantee our righteousness through strict adherence to certain doctrines are doomed too. God has so constructed Truth that it can only be pointed at by rational arguments or teachings. Words alone will never fully possess it... and words will be the very things that lead us astray if we trust only in them.

All of our teachings and all of our willpower must be aimed at begging for God's mercy, pleading for his grace and strength to see us through to the end. The best that we can do is to be willing to be made willing.

If we ever get to the top of the hill, it will not be through waiting at the bottom for God to fly us to the top. But neither will it be achieved through our willpower alone.  Our will must merge with One higher than ours.

Are you willing to be made willing?

(See also Lest You Fall.)

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