Thursday, April 03, 2008

Being Disciplined--What I'm Learning

No, this isn't a post about whether to spank or not to spank. It's not even about spanking at all. I just thought the picture would get your attention.

I've been thinking a lot about what it is that God is teaching me through the difficult circumstances of my life. It's actually discipline, you know. Not the "you were naughty and must be spanked" kind of discipline, but the kind described in this definition. Part of the definition is: "1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement." which then leads to "2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control."

We tend to think of discipline as always being punitive in nature, so when things happen in our lives that are unpleasant or produce suffering, we don't like to say that God is disciplining us. We often say that He is testing us, or has merely allowed these things to happen and will somehow work them for good. But if we see the word discipline as a good thing, a training, a teaching, our perspective can change. Go to Bible Gateway and do a search of the word "discipline." (I did the NASB and the NIV.) What rich treasures we find in God's Word regarding His love for His children and His discipline of us. Think of it this way--if Eric and I never disciplined/taught/trained our kids, we would be poor parents, indeed. See how God's Word echoes this:

Hebrews 12
God Disciplines His Sons

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There are many other places in Scripture that encourage us to accept discipline joyfully. Job 5:17 tells us not to despise the discipline of the Almighty. Psalm 94:12 says we are blessed when God disciplines us. Proverbs 3:12 says that God disciplines those He loves.

So, I don't think God is punishing our family for anything with all that has happened, but I do think He is disciplining us, in order to make us better disciples. We are being stretched, and growing. We are learning patience, endurance, trust, long-suffering, hope, faith, and the utmost importance of fixing our eyes on Jesus. We are learning the grave importance of self-discipline in the areas of Bible study, prayer, and fasting.

What is it all for? What about that big question: WHY? Some people would say that we may never know until we get to heaven, and it's true we may never know the specifics of "why?" But I'd like to think that we do know the general reason: It is for making us more like Him. It is for molding us into His image, getting rid of the dross so that we may be purified. Ow, it's painful and unpleasant! But we sure are looking forward to that harvest of righteousness and peace.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.


Safe Thus Far said...

Hi!!!! (This comment doesn't go with any particular post, by the way.) I didn't know you guys had blogs. I've kept up with you from your prayer letters, but that's it. Then last night I stumbled upon Eric's blog while searching for something on Google. I left a comment on his Feb. 16 post.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi and how tickled I am to find that you're more "likeminded" than I even realized.

I just started a blog a few weeks ago, which you're welcome to visit. It's just a little picture diary, really--nothing profound (though it does have a Genius reading level for some reason!)


Alice C. said...

Hi Susan!!! Nice to hear from you. Your family is beautiful, by the way. So far I just quickly looked at pictures--I'll go back and read your posts more thoroughly. Wish we lived near you guys. And yes--despite my wild ways in college I am now very conservative. God's grace is a wonderful thing, isn't it?