It's kinda funny at times, how it often seems during a certain season in life the sermons, the lessons, the readings all seem to meet you where you are. Like it almost seems like everything is just for you, a great feeling really.
Lately I've been listening to sermons, reading books and passages, and being reminded that I'm at a point of discipline in my walk with the LORD right now. I've been ignoring a glaring sin in my life, and now I'm being disciplined for it. It's not like it's a horrible thing, in fact it's the opposite it's a great thing, a timely thing, a needed thing. It just surprises me that I didn't actually think it would come to this, at least not now, but here it is and well. . . I've learned to welcome it.
For class we're reading a book, "The Secrets of the Vine" by Bruce Wilkinson, and I came to a part about discipline in the believers life, and he talked about these three distinct ways, or degrees, in which God disciplines those he loves. The first being a rebuke, like a verbal warning, or in Bruce's case the look from his mother, it always scared him into place, but when it didn't it went further. It's equated to a timely word from a brother, or a scripture passage that causes conviction, or just a conviction caused by the Holy Spirit. It's the beginning, it's as far as we'd all like to go if we could choose when to stop.
Chastising was the second "degree" of discipline (all based on a passage in Hebrews). This Bruce pointed out was his father sending him to his room without dinner, thus taking away pleasures like family time and food and desert. It wasn't punishment, it wasn't hurting him, it was just taking away something that was pleasurable to him in order to make him see that how he was acting was wrong. Been there, felt that, don't want to go there again. I've known many christians who have been chastised by the LORD and have mistaken it for a trial or an issue with the enemy, because well it hurts that bad sometimes.
The last one is dreadful to consider at times, but it is scourging. This was the actual spanking for Bruce. But scripture says (I beleive in corinithians) that the sins of the people have even led to their sickness and death. Or look at the story of Ananais and Saphria in acts they were killed by the LORD right there for their sin. I certainly hope for the sake of myself and those whom I'm close with that we all repent and turn from our sin before we get into this stage.
With all that comes the realization that God does discipline us, he doesn't necessarily punish us, he doesn't do us harm but he will discipline us. It's like a father spanking a child, or taking away their phone, that's discipline. He loves the child, and recognizes that the child needs it in order to live the right away and to steer clear of things that are going to cause him harm down the line. The same is true with the Heavenly father. If I was not in this season of discipline things would be incrediably different, but now after realizing that it's discipline and not a trial things are better. It's easier to see the good in all this because it's all for the better. Yes discipline and trials are similiar both are for the building up of our relationship with God, but they have different motives. Trials are to build us up, often out of times of great closeness to God. Discipline, that's to correct a sin, an on doing sin in our lives. It was about time for me to come around and actually make the changes necessary, make the decision to defeat what I'm wrestling with, I still wish the cost of it would have been less but hey, it took that much to get me to make the change so I'm just glad I am determined more than ever now to make that change.
We don't like being disciplined when we're a child, we don't like when we're believers because we rarely recognize it as something that's good and needed, instead we hold out against it and respond with anger. It's easier to be subject to discipline if we don't look at it as a thing we have to deal with and as a thing we grow angry with, but instead look at it as a gift. A gift from a Father who wants nothign short of the best fo us every moment that we're alive, a gift that steers us in the right direction all the time.
Be open to discipline.