Willpower. The will of powers. The power of will. No matter how you say it, willpower is a lie.
Have you ever had that feeling that something was missing but you just couldn’t put your finger on it? I had been struggling with this for a while, specifically when it came to this concept of willpower. I was in a three-way battle in my mind about what I knew to be true from science, what I knew to be true from personal experience, and what I was trying to understand about what God says about it.
Aha moments are real.
I was in that battle up until today. You guys, I literally had one of those drop the phone, filled with goosebumps, aha moments. I figured it out. Which is why I’m frantically typing this out on my phone while “teaching” my son his math lesson. Thank the good Lord for online video textbooks.
Anyway, I finally heard what the Holy Spirit had probably been saying to me for roughly the past 12 months. I may or may not be the best listener, but atleast I’m slow 😆.
And the aha moment that pulled it all together for me?
A little history first…
First you have to understand my struggle. You see, I’d been struggling with this idea of using willpower versus prayer to help with food cravings. Hands down I know prayer is going to win. The Holy Spirit is always stronger than I am. But in my case, neither was working for me. And I hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that it wasn’t an inherent failure on my part nor was it a lack of worthiness in God’s eyes. I just knew I was missing something. I literally felt like there was more to the story. And I was determined to find out.
I was actually combining the two.
I think most of us can identify with this. For years I had been praying for sufficient willpower to resist my own food cravings. But I had always eventually given in and the food cravings won out. My prayers clearly were not answered the way I had wanted them to be. So yes, I doubted God really wanted to help me with this.
And that scared me. It made me wonder if I was doing something wrong or simply wasn’t worthy of His help.
I also started to doubt my place in helping others. I was reading books from successful Christians who were saying prayer worked for them, and it was sure to work for me too. So why was I struggling with this?
Willpower was making my head spin.
I have been back and forth with this so many times it would make your head spin. And so, once again, I had put it up on a shelf in my brain and walked away from it. I had decided I simply wasn’t ready to tackle that yet.
But did you know that when God wants you to do something, He doesn’t really let you walk away from it for long? So there I was this morning, staring at the word willpower yet again in one of my daily devotionals. Grrrr. I reluctantly pulled this struggle back down off my brain shelf. Double grrrr.
I had to give up on willpower.
This time would be different. But it was different because this time God had armed me with more knowledge. More learning had taken place.
You see, I’ve been doing a bible study on Elijah and it’s been fascinating. Basically he’s this loner mountain man shepherd guy who God used to spread His glory. And Elijah had quite the journey too.
He does things differently.
I know God has the power to answer any prayer at any time in any way He sees fit. He can certainly make miracles happen, He can heal the sick, and He protects in times of danger. But when it comes to Him stepping in on free will, I think He approaches things differently. My experience tells me He usually doesn’t just out of the blue send a strike of lightning down and make a food craving go away. My experience, and what I have been learning about Elijah too, tells me He usually has a different plan.
Are you ready for my big aha realization? Here goes…
Willpower is a lie…and it isn’t His answer anyway.
God’s plan involves more than just passively letting the Holy Spirit do all the work. You can’t just pray and sit back on your laurels and wait.
So in his story, after God had Elijah share the news of a coming drought, He sent Elijah to Cherith to be alone to learn to trust Him for sustenance and protection. And He needed Elijah to learn patience while he was there too. God was preparing Elijah. He was stretching and growing him to be ready for God’s next plan.
He COULD do this for you.
While I know in my heart that God CAN take away our food cravings, I am not convinced He is going to do it without input from you. I believe He puts us places and sends us challenges to stretch and grow us. He does this because He is preparing us for what’s next in our journey with Him. And to be fully ready, sometimes that means working through the hard parts instead of trying to bypass them. It means giving up past ways. Changing old ideas into new.
God didn’t just send Elijah straight up to Mount Carmel to challenge the prophets of baal. God knew Elijah wasn’t ready for that. And much like Elijah being told to go to Cherith and then Zarephath first, God may choose to set you down smack in front of your food cravings because He has plans for them to stretch and grow you. There were lessons at Cherith and in Zarephath for Elijah. And there are lessons in your food cravings. And if you’re going to stretch and grow and be ready for what God has waiting next, you need to put in the work.
Biblical experts think Elijah spent about a year and a half at Cherith, waiting, resting, relying on God’s word that He would provide. Please don’t expect this process to be fast or easy. It probably won’t be either. Be patient, rest and trust in the Holy Spirit to send you what you need. But be intentional about watching for signs and lessons as you wait. God’s timing is always perfect.
So it’s not about willpower.
There is no question in my mind anymore about how this is supposed to work. This is not about willpower at all. It’s about the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s about preparing for what He has planned for us next. And your food cravings are a signal from Him that He is getting you ready for your next season. You know this because the cravings are His message that it’s time for you to release your grasp on whatever is binding you to that food.
I hope this message reached you in the same big aha way it did me. Or I hope it planted a tiny seed for you to nurture and grow in His timing. I’d love it if you would share in the comments your experience with food cravings and what you do to help yourself with them.