A bit of training required?
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. (Psalm 143:10)
I am one who needs a lot of 'teaching' when it comes to doing God's will. Make no bones about it - we choose our own way over God's way and then find ourselves working our way back to the way he asked us to go anyway, so why do we do it? When we stop to consider how 'hard' it seems to find and walk in God's will at times, we might just have to admit how insanely hard it is to walk our way back into his will once we have decided to go our own way! That 'hardness' in choosing righteousness isn't by accident - it might just show how 'willing' we are to put God first in our lives, even when it isn't the easiest thing to do! It may not seem like it at first, but those who choose to rebel against the will of God will endure a hard ending. We might think they are enjoying life now, but I don't suspect they will enjoy it much into eternity when they find themselves facing God's judgment and their eternal damnation!
If you have ever owned a dog, you might have experienced the phenomenon I refer to as 'being walked by the dog' rather than you walking the dog. The leash is firmly attached to the collar, the dog bounds out ahead of you, going this way and that, sniffing everything in its path, and there you are being 'drug along' behind as though you were the one being walked! The dog is just behaving like a dog - it must be trained to not pull, come alongside willingly, and not follow after every stray scent in its path. I imagine it is kind of like that at times with us and God. We get out ahead of him, pulling this way and that, 'sniffing at' everything that comes along our path, not even looking back to see that God isn't at all pleased with our willful disobedience. Whenever he puts us through periods of 'training' in our lives, it isn't because he doesn't like us or that he is mad at us. It is because he knows how much more enjoyable the walk will be if we come alongside and fall in stride with him!
The dog who has been through obedience training isn't 'whipped' into obedience. They are encouraged to follow commands and then they are rewarded when they do. Is the reward always something they expected, like a piece of kibble? No, sometimes it is a bit of praise, a scratch behind the ears, or a ruffling of their neck fur. He soon realizes how much pleasure it seems to bring his master. The reward is encouragement to dig a bit deeper to obey the next command. When the dog finally learns there is great reward in following the commands, they just do it because they know it brings pleasure to their master. I wonder if we were presented with God's commands today if we'd heed them simply because we know God will find pleasure in the closeness it brings us into with him, or if we are expecting some kind of 'reward' each time we obey? Just askin!