Martha’s Message of the Month for May, “Experiencing an Open Heaven,” has just exploded into my life, my very relationship, with the Lord. It’s set off a chain reaction of seeing, so much so that I barely know what’s happening enough to write about it. I’m trusting the Spirit to take care of that particular problem, however, and He wants to start with the battle for my will.
If you are even passing familiar with Martha’s foundational teachings, you know that free-will is not some minor gift from God, but THE factor in our individual life story. My life is not impacted by either how much I’ve suffered or how much I’ve been blessed; it is my RESPONSE TO the suffering and the blessing that determines my life. I choose, we ALL choose. God Himself will not violate our choice by taking it from us, but He does allow us to surrender our will. And that’s where things get sticky.
I’ve had a recurring nightmare since I was in my teens. In the dream, someone is coming at me with the intent to murder me, and I can’t move. I can’t run or walk – I’m just frozen, watching them come. But that’s not the part that terrifies me the most. No, the part that fills me with horror is that I can’t object. I can’t speak. I struggle to say “No” and I can’t make a sound. My lips move, but the “No” is caught in my throat and I can’t get it out. That’s usually when I wake up in a cold sweat. I tell about this dream because it perfectly captures a deeply rooted fear of mine, planted by my response to suffering. Deep in my heart lies the belief that I don’t really have the ability to object, to say “no.”
The battle for my will has raged my whole life, and even after being saved, the issue of my will has been at the heart of many, many dealings before God. I know that my will is intact. I know that I am accountable for my every choice BECAUSE my will is intact. I know that I am responsible for every choice I’ve ever made and ever will make BECAUSE my ability to choose is God’s own gift to me, and “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). And yet knowing all of this has never been enough to break the paralyzing fear that my will is NOT intact. Knowledge alone has never been enough.
What the Holy Spirit showed me is that knowledge is no match for belief. It’s not enough to know that my God-given free-will is intact, has ALWAYS been intact. I have to believe it. The Holy Spirit imparts the Truth to me, but it is mine to leap out into the reality of that Truth. And that is what it means to believe—when you truly believe something, the way you live your life reflects it. People who wear tinfoil hats to block alien mind probes don’t care if you think they’re crazy. They believe that aliens have the ability to access their minds and only tinfoil hats will prevent that. Their ways reflect what they believe.
For years I have repented of this deep and sinful fear, confessed my unbelief, and begged God to forgive me and cleanse me with the Blood. And though these were the very necessary keys to open the prison door, I had to choose to walk out of the prison. Knowing I was wrong wasn’t enough. Knowing I was forgiven wasn’t enough. Even knowing I was free wasn’t enough. I had to believe, to step out and LIVE that truth! I finally took the leap, and by that leap, I left one reality and entered another. And do you know, in this new world, my “no” is as exuberant and joyful as my “yes.” I asked God to show me in the scripture what this new world is, and this is what He gave me:
God’s promise of entering His rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them (the Israelites). But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God (Caleb and Joshua).
For only we who believe can enter His rest.
Hebrews 4:1-3 NLT