New Instincts

in-stinct: an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior. Nature is always impressive in light of instincts we witness. A couple of years ago our dog had puppies. She did not take any Lamaze class or read any puppy parenting book, but the list of things she knew to do by instinct (God’s internal written code) was long and impressive. My wife and I should just stay out of it because our dog knew better what to do than we did.

Enter humanity, I’ve always said there are a lot of things I never had to teach my kids. Most of those things are the worst about humanity. I never had to teach them how to reject help, say no, scream “mine,” be jealous, hoard toys, take toys while a sibling is not looking, manipulate instructions, produce a list of needed items to keep from going to bed… how long of a list can we make. I did not have to instruct my kids on one of those things, they came by it naturally. My kids were born knowing how to sin, my wife and I did nothing to teach it to them (except for a little modeling I presume!!) Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things. Greed, selfishness, jealousy, manipulation, it is not too hard to find it in our world… it is not too hard to find it in… myself.

No need to teach a lab how to swim. It’s almost immediate.

Enter coaching, there is a challenge in bringing good knowledge to the point of instinct. It requires truth, grace and time. In our world the first step is knowledge (reminder of the truth), the second step is that knowledge is so ingrained in us that we do it, without even thinking about it. Grace to repeat the instruction repeatedly, realizing that the journey from knowledge to instinct is a long road that requires time. In a sports competition, in the time it has taken you to think about it, then do it, it is too late. Instinct takes milliseconds, thought then action takes seconds… or minutes (not naming names!!) You are at the point of instinct when players simply jump into the things you previously had to yell (proclaim with exuberant volume). It is a lot of fun to help our girls develop a series of instincts that make basketball go better.

Enter Spiritual formation, there are many journeys to instinct here. The journey from selfishness to selflessness. The journey from needing to fill an internal void in me, to being filled with Christ and having an overflow to give out from me. The journey expressed in the line of the hymn, “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the “Son” above.” All these journeys are reflected in a long string of choices in our moment, day, week, and years. The process of being a three-year-old saying “mine,” having a selfish instinct that, by the power of God alive in me, becomes an instinct to serve and love generously without need for payback. The journey of a lifetime…

May God grant us a vision for those new instincts. These things aren’t hidden, the Bible presents them plainly. We have a great coach who offers truth, grace and time for these to develop in us. A new natural is better than the original natural.

Here’s to the power of God to recreate the Godly version of instincts in our hearts!!

Published by hisnamehisfame

Husband, Father, Pastor, Coach, Designer, Bonsai Dork

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