Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law. Psalm 119:28
It’s so easy for me to live by my own set of defaults. My behavior has been shaped by my environment and genetics. However, even though I’m prone to do my own thing without an afterthought, I have a gracious teacher who stretches me to embrace new beliefs and behaviors.
When I was young, I picked up ways of coping with my life that work for me. I learned these patterns from watching my parents and other adults in my life. They became my defaults. “That’s the way we do things in our family…” is a defensive tip-off that a default behavior is in play. Or, “That’s just me. That’s what I do when…..”
God is all about replacing my defaults (false ways according to David) with new kingdom strategies. Who is the teacher? The Holy Spirit. He gently and graciously exposes each false way as I interact with His word, and then shows me God’s choice for that situation. I may be called to speak when, by default, I would have been silent. I may be called to be silent when, by default, I would have run my mouth. I may be called to be the only one in my family to make a different choice when, by default, I’ve always been a conformist. I may be called to live in harmony when, by default, I’ve been a wild horse who insisted on acting independently.
The Holy Spirit is not mean-faced or punitive. He is cajoling, patient, and encouraging, even when learning a new way takes a long time. I’ve learned that it’s unrealistic to think that I can undo decades of defaults overnight. It will be trial and error, walking into a new truth a step at a time. While learning it, I may not feel I’m moving very fast. I can become my own harsh teacher, replacing the kind words of my Spirit Instructor with my own condemning messages.
The question I ask myself today is not “How far have you come?” It’s this ~ “Am I on the path of abandoning false ways and listening to my teacher?” If yes, even a snails pace fueled by a good faith effort is the pace that is pleasing to God.
I will be abandoning defaults until the day I die. I always want to hear Your voice above my own. Thank you for being gracious when my heart is bent to listen and learn. Amen