Am I Being Disciplined?

14 05 2010

When do we know we are being disciplined? And how can you tell the difference between “I am going through a hard time” and “I am going through a hard time because God is disciplining me”? And is there a difference?

I am asking myself this question, reading Proverbs this morning

“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I did a little reading on just the word “discipline” and it seems that the kind of discipline described in Proverbs is not the verbal kind, it is the hands-on kind; the kind you feel. I much prefer the kind where God sits me down and says, “Teresa, about that…” but every good parent, and God is the original, knows that “the talk” doesn’t always get results. There comes a time when it has to smart. A little shot of pain goes a long way in teaching a lesson that lasts.

One of the privileges of being an adult is that we can spoil our appetite if we want to; there is no mother catching us in the act. In fact, we can gorge on all kinds of destructive habits and attitudes. We can hide all sorts of sin. We still have certain levels of accountability (we have to show up at our jobs if we want a paycheck), but there is a lot of room to weave outside the lines and be idiots. As a Christ-follower, though, we are not left to our own damaging devices.  God talks to us, daily if we engage; but He knows when enough is enough and He can also see ahead and knows when we are about to ski into a tree.

Discipline is meant to develop us and teach us self-control.  It is meant to help bring ourselves “in line” so that we don’t destroy ourselves and others. Being disciplined means someone is paying attention to us and we are worth the work of shaping.

God’s discipline is not meant to invoke fear in us. The word “despise” in the verse means “to feel a sickening dread.”  Our common response to discipline is to fear it, but “the righteous understand that it refines one’s moral character and that it is a means to the blessing.” (bible.org)

So if we are being disciplined, does it mean that God is coming after us because we have really messed up? When I think about why we discipline our kids, it isn’t always because they have done something noticeably bad (although, that can be the case).  Behavior has a way of foreshadowing. Behavior highlights what is going on inside; behavior lifts its head up and you catch a glimpse of it and you go, “yikes, that is going to be bad down the road.” So, a “campaign of correction” begins.

I gotta say, I really do not like being disciplined. At the same time, there is something really freeing about it. When I admit what God already sees and when I allow myself to enter that time of shaping without resentment, I know that I will be better on the other side. I will be more loving; I will be more less judgmental and more compassionate; I will have less junk inside me.

It will be good on the other side, I know this; and by good, understand, it doesn’t mean that everything will be neat and tidy in and around me. But honestly, I kind of expect that. I kind of expect that after God has disciplined me He will give me a great big hug and a cookie and a glass of milk.  But sometimes when the correction phase is over, life is still hard.  But, I know this from experience, there is something more right in my soul.

I can’t really answer my question for anyone else — when do I know I am being disciplined — but the answer for me is that sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I am too far gone. Sometimes I am too selfish to see that I am selfish. Sometimes I am so sure I am right that 10 people could tell me I am wrong and I will find a way to make myself believe I am right.  That’s the point of why I need discipline — because I don’t know that I need it.

I try not to be so self-absorbed that I forget to ask: “God, what is this? What are you trying to teach me? What do I need to see that I don’t? Is there ‘some wicked way in me’? Let me see what I need to see during this time.”

Some tough things have just broken my heart and I have known that I needed to have my heart broken for my own sake and for the sake of seeing things more like Jesus does. Some tough things have been so revealing, showing me things I didn’t see in myself. Some tough things have been sharp warnings: “See that? Don’t ever let yourself do that!” Some tough things have been preparation for harder lessons to come (like the prequel) and made the step a little less painful…

Before and after and in-between though, I know that God isn’t all about “the hammer” — I know that He delights in me and only disciplines me because I am worth the energy.

Thank you, God, that you don’t leave me as I am.

— Teresa Klassen

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One response

17 05 2010
Bruce

It’s important for us to be where God can speak to us. If we aren’t reading the Word, attending church, or involved in conversations with others how can we expect God to instruct, guide, discipline or speak to us?

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