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  • Eric Kampmann

Willful or Willing Spirit?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow

your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life,

O Lord, according to your word. Accept, O Lord, the willing

praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.

—Psalm 119:105–108

How do we reach a point in our lives when we can offer a “willing” spirit to the Lord? Typically we display the spirit of a stubborn mule, unwilling to move forward or back. Sometimes we describe a child as “willful,” but rarely do we see this willful spirit in ourselves.

But the more brittle we become as we ossify into monuments of willfulness, the greater the crisis when we hear the call of the Lord. This is what happened to Paul as he approached Damascus to stamp out the followers of Jesus. Though he was highly regarded by the chief priests and Pharisees, he had become a religious monster. Then, unexpectedly, as he approached the city “a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3–4).

Paul was blinded by the heavenly light; he faced a crisis of conflicting purposes. He must either disregard the light from heaven or submit to the voice that tells him, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). From that moment on, Paul chose to follow the commands of the Lord. This is what is meant by conversion. Paul is Paul, but he changed at that moment from being an opponent of God to being an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Paul experienced an extraordinary change of heart and a complete change in the direction in his life. Paul was on a mission to destroy the followers of Christ, but God had other plans for him. At that moment, Paul had a choice. He could have remained willfully disobedient to the call because God did not force him to change the direction of his life. The same is true for each one of us; God is not forcing us to change directions. We have a choice, but as with many things, our choice does have consequences. Choosing to follow Jesus will often make things harder, not easier which is why many follow the path of the “Rich Young Leader.” (Matthew 19:16-26)

—Eric Kampmann, Signposts

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