Our family doctor reminds me at each pediatric appointment that “the word discipline means to teach”. He always elaborates on that statement to say “this is the part when I am supposed to tell you that you aren’t supposed to spank your kids…but, I believe spanking [with restraint and not in anger] has a place in discipline when a child has placed themselves in danger.” I happen to agree. I was reminded of this two weeks ago when my daughter opened her car door while I was traveling down a major road going 50 mph. I pulled over and scolded her and promptly re-activated the child-lock mechanism on her door. When I proceeded back on to the road, she attempted to do it again and she thought it was funny. At that point I decided to spank her. This was dangerous business and she just was not understanding the ramifications. One single, firm swat on her rear and a trip to time out awaited her when we pulled into our driveway. Since then, when we get in the car she tells me in a proactive manner, “Mom, I am not going to open my door today.” Discipline in some form is necessary to correct behavior that is less than satisfactory…to teach.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, 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 spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No 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.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”
This is a statement I remember vividly and it was usually prefaced some form of discipline…more specifically, a spanking. Now that I am a parent I totally understand that sentiment. As a parent, I’d like my kids to choose the right path without resorting to that kind of discipline. So yes, it hurts me when they choose another path and place themselves in danger. The tears that follow hurt, too. But, lack of discipline would create greater heartache and more serious consequences down the road. I can only imagine that God feels the same way when we choose our way over His.
I have been disciplined by the Lord. I wandered and was an unfaithful prodigal for many years. The Lord disciplined me for that wandering years later and taught me…helped me truly understand what it is to forgive and be forgiven. At the moment when He knew that I would hear him loud and clear…at the moment when I had nowhere to look but up…at the moment when the results of doing things my way turned into the thorny crop that I had sewn; He allowed me to reap that crop, but walked me through- holding my hand every step of the way. I had to endure each prick of the thorn, each scratch of the briars, and each burn as the antiseptic was applied.
Discipline…unpleasant, but necessary. But, as God’s Word says, “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” I am so thankful that God loves me enough to discipline me. I am thankful that I am in a posture to receive that discipline with open ears, open eyes and open hands.
Our pastor said in the sermon this morning, “Trust or Run”. When times get tough or uncomfortable…when we’re being disciplined, enduring a trial or even persecuted for our belief in Christ- we have the choice to either trust Him or run. The verse I have been helping my children commit to memory this month has been Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.
Trust and discipline, peace and a level path. All of these things have converged this week. God never ceases to amaze me with the common threads He weaves through my days and weeks. I am thankful for seeing eyes and hearing ears. I pray that I will continue to discipline my children with the same love that the Lord applies when He disciplines me.