Where there is a will, there is a way
It’s been a long time, but I can still hear my mother saying it: ‘Where there is a will, there is a way…’ As a child I sometimes had an excuse to avoid doing something when asked. I didn’t always feel like doing my chores in our family. We lived on the third floor in the center of Rotterdam and in the post-war years we did not have central heating in our house. So every winter day my mother asked me: ‘would you fill the coal box in the basement? Of course I did not always feel like it. Very often the excuses came: ‘why me, why not my sister? I hated that boiler room in the basement, first three floors down and then all that dust, that coal dust. It made you pitch black and I always had to sneeze. I just hated it, so I tried to get out of it regularly.
I didn’t dare say ‘no’ outright, of course, but I always looked for an excuse: ‘I’m tired, after a full day of school. ”I still have homework to do, I want to play soccer with my friends’. There was always a reason to think of not to shovel coal. In such cases, my mother would say, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ Yes….., and off I went, three floors down.
I think we are all familiar with the fact that you can be reluctant or unwilling to do something. You prefer to avoid something, even though you know it has to be done. This was not only the case in my youth, but also in later life, you sometimes encounter resistance, the inner resistance to do something. This can be anything from filling out tax forms to mowing the lawn in the garden or emptying the dishwasher. And what about a birthday that you can’t get away from and don’t feel like doing? It’s all those little things that sometimes cost a fight before you give in.
This word from my mother suddenly came to my mind this morning. Whenever you set your mind to something, you will always be presented with reasoning that slows you down and works against you. Very often this leads to procrastination: Tomorrow, tomorrow I will start. Tomorrow I will stop smoking, tomorrow I will ……. But very often, procrastination leads to postponement and you continue your bad habit or addiction. It takes willpower to transform your will into action. And sometimes you even need help with that. It’s not just the will, but also: I will…. It’s a will, a radical choice to start doing things or changing things in your life or seeking help.
Very often you see that around the turn of the year people have all kinds of good intentions. Scientists have found the exact date when these same people stop with their good intentions. Exactly after twelve days the good intentions remain in force on average. January 12 is the ‘Sjaak Afhaak’ day, when most people fall back into their bad habits of the previous year. So apparently it is not so easy to break with behavior, a habit or addiction. Often we have an excuse and a valid reason.
There is a tile with the so-called tile wisdom, which says: Where there is a will, there is a way; where there is no will, there is a detour and where there is unwillingness, there is always a way out.
Once when the Lord Jesus was talking to people about following Him radically, there were also all kinds of objections or excuses.
To another he said, “Follow me! But this one said, “Lord, allow me to go back first to bury my father. (Luk :59) Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but allow me to say goodbye to my household members first.
Of course you may bury your father, that is even your obligation, it seems to me. Jesus just wants to make it clear, that you should not make all kinds of out excuses to follow Him. Of course you may say goodbye to your old mother when you go on a missionary journey. But let not the excuses prevent you from doing what you have decided to do.
It’s not just an I want, it’s an I will! Pick it up where you experience resistance. Finally get to work on what you’ve been putting off for so long. I know we are dealing with weakness. I have met people, who have been trying to quit smoking or drink a little less all their lives. But they don’t succeed. The addiction is too strong.
On this Paul, the apostle, says: What I do, I do not see through, for I do not do what I want; on the contrary, I do what I hate. (Rom 7:15 NBV). He hated his behavior. Some people even hate themselves because they cannot manage to break their behavior or addiction.
Paul acknowledges in this word, that he is powerless. Just as all of us are in a sense powerless in certain areas of our lives. You have tried something over and over again, but each time you run into your own failure. You ask yourself: Why don’t I have a stop button? Especially with an addiction, but also with negative reactions, when you have to deal with a certain situation or person. ‘Why do I always react so tense, angry or crawl into my shell?’ And the enemy whispers in your ear: ‘You are a wimp, a wimp.’ But I want to tell you: don’t let this get to you. Don’t let any thought or accusation get to you, because it won’t help you.
We all need help, whether you acknowledge it or not. In any case, the Bible gives a ready-made answer to this, when things are not working out in your life. Then you need to seek help from God and sometimes also with the help of people. The Holy Spirit is a gift given to those who have entrusted their lives to Jesus. Who have said to the Lord: ‘I cannot do it alone, help me’. Grant me your forgiveness, your strength, your liberating healing of my weakness.
Thus the same Paul continues, when he had recognized that he was not saving it alone: The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know what to say to God in prayer, but the Spirit himself pleads for us with wordless sighs. (Rom 8: 26 NBV)
Just acknowledge your weakness, your vulnerability and inability to do good. But that’s not all there is to it. Speak up too, that with our Lord’s help, you can become more than a victor over bad habits, sins and addictions.
But in all this we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. (Rom 8:37 HSV)
‘Where there is a will, there is a way,’ my mother taught me. I would change this: where there is a will, there is THE WAY.