Working on making "second nature" become primary
What I choose to do versus what I am supposed to do is often quite different. As mom and I sat at the local restaurant trying to decide what she wanted for breakfast (at 1 pm), she decided on two things - french toast and bacon. The issue is that the breakfast with the bacon was too much for her, and I didn't want much to eat, either. So, what to get, what to get? In the end, I settled on the 55+ item which came with scrambled eggs, two pancakes, and two pieces of bacon. As much as I love bacon (and I do enjoy the greasy, crispy stuff), I gave them to mom. Mom was in heaven - she had the two things she craved for weeks. Now, lest you think I was doing some grandiose thing by giving her the bacon, I wasn't. I have been trying to eat a little healthier these days and really need to work as hard as possible on correcting my diet as I am a little deficient in the good nutrients (such as potassium) and a little over-sated in the not so good stuff (cholesterol). So, it was a thing more of obedience and denial. There are times when we need to be reminded of what is important in life - like when God has to teach us what pleases him instead of us constantly focusing on what brings satisfaction or pleasure to our own lives. We find it quite easy to focus on what we want (what we really, really want) and to ignore what he is asking (what he wants, really, really wants).
Teach me to do what pleases you, because you are my God. Guide me by your good spirit into good land. (Psalm 143:10 CEB)
We need to be instructed in what pleases him because it doesn't come "naturally" to us. It is like when I choose the spinach salad over the chicken strips and fries. I have a lot of reminders in this life to watch what I eat, but a wake up call from the doctor saying my potassium was seriously low made me take notice once again what I am putting in my body. If I were to be truthful here, it isn't that I don't know what is right to eat, I just settle for the stuff which is easiest to consume (takes less time), is available all the time, and is definitely not the best for me. I think we sometimes approach the things God asks us to do as though they are too hard - we want the easiest and that which takes less time to realize. It is only natural that we want to get at what we want in life in the quickest amount of time. The issue is that God doesn't always reveal his timing or intention in the same speed as we want it!
I have said this before - to be taught one must be teachable in spirit, mind, and soul. This means we must be open to what we are receiving - not just "attentive", but actively engaged in applying what we are receiving. There is a difference - one involves passive listening while the other involves active involvement. If I really want to learn something, I need to see one, then do one. To really get it, I do it over and over again until I get consistency. I have a few power tools in my little shop which I am learning to use with ease. Some of them I am less familiar with because they kind of frighten me! Others I am quite comfortable using, but I don't know if I am using them to their full advantage. Do I understand what that torque thing-a-ma-jiggy is on cordless drill? Nope, but I know it has something to do with not stripping the head on the screw as I land it into the wood. Good enough for me!
I don't have a clue how to use the circular saw with any accuracy yet. I cut as close to a straight line as possible, even using a straight edge to help me, but somehow I still manage to get a little "drift" in my alignment. The issue isn't that I am not trying and using all the secrets people have taught me, it is something else. I haven't practiced enough to become proficient with this tool. The same might be true of some of the spiritual lessons we need to learn in life. It isn't that we haven't received the information on what to do, it is that we haven't practiced doing it enough to have it really begin to be consistently how we do things in our lives. Consistency is the key in learning - the more we do something, the easier it becomes to do it in the first place (like it becomes second nature to us).
For something to become "second nature" implies there is a "first nature" to deal with. This could not be truer in our lives than where it comes to obedience to the teachings of Christ. We have one way of seeing and doing things which may be totally opposed to God's way of seeing and doing those things. We want what we want, what we really, really want. All the while, we may know what God wants, but it is not yet "second nature" to us - we are following our instincts and desires of the first nature. This is why God emphasizes the importance of renewal of the mind - for all action begins in thought and if we can wrap our heads around what God wants, we stand a better chance of actually doing it when we need to! For God's nature to become primary in our lives, we need to allow what has been "first nature" to us for so long to be replaced with what some call "second nature" choices. The more we do this, the more "second nature" becomes primary nature! Just sayin!