Before his team played a particular football match considered by football fans as tough, Jose Mourinho, a football coach was quoted as saying “I simply told my players—they are not my words, they’re the words of a chap called Albert, Albert Einstein—that the only force stronger than steam, electricity or atomic energy is human will. This chap Albert was not stupid. With will, you can do things”.[i] I couldn’t agree more, because, it’s amazing how a child that has always been obedient to his/her parents can suddenly become rebellious when it comes to making some decisions, for example, the choice of a spouse. It may be so clear to the parents that their child is about to make a terrible mistake, but (s)he goes on headstrong, insisting to have his/her way. The human will is so strong sometimes that it defies reason. An insistence on doing anything possible in order to have one’s way, except met with strong resistance, will wreck a lot of havoc in the lives of others and ultimately in the individual’s life. It could be something as local as taking another’s possession or as grand as a desire to rule the world not caring whose ox is gored.
But the will of one can sometimes be subdued by the will of a people speaking with one voice, as it was in the series of revolutions in Northern-Africa. And since they began, the question has often been asked: can there be a similar revolution in Nigeria? A country which suffers from lack of the dividends of governance more than Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. From my point of view, I strongly doubt a possibility of such in the near future. This is because, Nigerians today hardly speak with one voice, maybe because we have over 200 ethnic groups with as many languages. So also, any criticism of the government of the day is quickly painted as an ethnic or religious disaffection. And so, it may be hard to find Nigerians disregarding ethnic or religious barriers and exercising their collective will in order to have a Tunisia-like or an Egypt-like revolution.
Being a pacifist, I do not advocate or wish that such chaos takes place before Nigeria gets things right, but watching them with keen interest revealed to me how strong the human will is and that truly, the human will can do things. It can change leaders or change the mind of leaders. It can create and it can destroy. It was the determination of the human will to create light and aeroplane that made it happen eventually. This perhaps, is the greatest evidence that the human mind is immaterial. It is not made of matter, nor is it physically real; because even Beethoven’s hearing loss—a physical disability—did not prevent him from composing great music. The human mind, when rightly motivated is capable of doing great beneficial deeds.
It can be said, and rightly so, that the greatest risk that God took at creation was to create man with free-will; this is because giving man the freedom to exercise his will in whatever direction he desires, whether for good or evil, can lead to great fortune or misfortune as the case may be. This risk is captured in a quote by Samuel Korateng-Pipim, he says:
Anything risky requires a license to operate. Hence we need licenses or permits to drive, to practice our professions, to own guns or restaurants, and even to get married. Anything risky—except US! We’re the greatest risk to operate, yet exempt from obtaining a license to run our lives. We were created with the power of CHOICE—an absolute freedom to think, choose, be, or do as we please. How risky! You want proof of this “license-free” right? See how we’ve used it to hate and love, be ignorant and stupid, arrogant and self-sufficient. You want ultimate proof? Look what we did to our Creator on Calvary! Human beings without God are walking time-bombs—they’re “deceitful … and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)! WE’RE very risky![ii]
Yes we’re risky, yet capable of great good, if we exercise our will in the right direction. God said: I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deut. 30:19). God is simply saying to us, exercise your will in whatever direction you choose and “your will be done”.
Yes, your will be done.
The human will can accomplish its greatest good when it works in cooperation with God’s will. Christ includes in His sample prayer that “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10). This involves a total surrender to God’s desires and instructions, thereby making them my desires and aspirations. Recognizing that I do not know the best for myself but Christ does. Dying to the desires of one’s flesh and living to Christ’s desires and love. Saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20). It means I will use the same energy I use in pursuing evil to do God’s bidding.
Imagine a man converting the same energy he employs to engage in womanizing for soul-winning. I remember I converted my ability to memorize rap songs to memorizing scriptural quotes. One can convert the energy she uses to prepare for and attend parties to be used in preparing for and attending prayer meetings and bible study. It’s just a simple proposition; God needs your abilities to be used in activities that will ennoble you.
White wrote that “in the common walks of life there is many a man patiently treading the round of daily toil, unconscious that he possesses powers which, if called into action, would raise him to an equality with the world’s most honored men. The touch of a skillful hand is needed to arouse those dormant faculties.”[iii] The skillful hand is Christ’s. God “calls for the human will to be brought into connection with the divine will. He calls for the ingenuity of the human mind, the tact, the skill, to be strenuously exercised in searching out the truth as it is in Jesus.”[iv] O! What great good the human mind can accomplish when it’s will is brought in cooperation with the divine will; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13).
The Lord works in cooperation with the will and action of the human agent. It is the privilege and duty of every man to take God at His word, to believe in Jesus as his personal Saviour, and to respond eagerly, immediately, to the gracious propositions which He makes. He is to study to believe and obey the divine instruction in the Scriptures. He is to base his faith not on feeling but upon the evidence and the Word of God.[v] The human will is too powerful to have feeling as its greatest motivation; it was made for something grander. If left to feelings, the human will is too dangerous and risky, but in cooperation with the Divine will, having its powers exerted for good, the human will is the greatest asset in the universe.
God can only make provisions for you to exercise your will aright; He never forces anyone to do so. Like the proverbial bringing of the horse to the river but being unable to force it to drink. The Spirit of God willingly departs from the life of anyone who refuses to welcome Him. He is unwelcome when His promptings are not heeded nor His small voice of warning listened to. He is never cast out, He leaves at will. It is the spirit of devils on the other hand that needs to be cast out forcefully by Christ’s power because the devil does “not open the house of his prisoners” (Isa. 14:17). It is only with God that true freedom is found, He allows everyone to exercise their will freely whether for or against Him. He may sometimes bring us to a straight road that one may think he/she has no other choice than one, like He did to Saul of Tarsus and the Egyptian Pharaoh (Acts 9, Exo. 5-12), but the final decision always rests with us. No matter how stiff a situation appears, you still have a choice to make. There are always two directions in which you can exercise your will.
In the end, God’s will, surely will be done whether one chooses life or death, but it will ultimately depend on the direction in which each individual exercises his/her will. C.S Lewis once said:
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.[vi]
This is because; God “is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). In the end, God will be vindicated in judgment because every man would have sufficient opportunity to choose life. This is why a vineyard owner, God, laments: “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?” (Isa. 5:4). God has done everything within His power to provide ample opportunity for everyone to have life. His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (2 Pet. 1:3). He exhausted all options when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place and give everyone another chance to choose life. And thus the writer of the book of Hebrews asks: “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).
Yes I can escape if determined to exercise my will in cooperation with the divine will, aside that, there is no other way of escape. God desires to make the best use of your will, only if you surrender it to Him; because in the end, between you and God, one will say to the other, “Your will be done”.
[iii] Ellen G. White, Conflict and Courage, pg. 282
[iv] Ellen G. White, Our High Calling, pg. 310
[v] Ellen G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pg. 928
[vi] C.S Lewis, The Great Divorce