Monday, February 6, 2017

Distance and Discipline

I think sometimes we want life and growth handed to us on a platter, perfectly ordered so we won't have to exert much effort.  I am that way sometimes and God has to remind me that growth, character and peace come at the expense of tears, toil, struggle and mistakes.  It is a difficult process for those of us expecting to get God's teaching the easy way.

When I was a boy my father taught me to start the lawnmower, how to be safe while mowing, the boundaries of the yard and his expectation that the yard would be well-mowed.  The first few times I mowed our grass it was far less than perfect.  I wanted to get the job over quickly. So I ran through the mowing process, missing spots and doing a poor job of edging.  When dad was sure I knew the right way to mow and was sure I was trying to get through the job the easy way I learned some other things.  I learned dad would punish me when I failed to respect and listen to his instruction.  I also learned dad was not going to stand over me and watch me mow.  He was off at work earning a living for the family and he had more to do than nursemaid me over something I should be able to do myself.  His distance was part of the lesson.

In Hebrews 12 the Word tells us about a God who disciplines His children.  Hebrews says God does this because 1) we are His children and God disciplines those He loves ... 2) we need to be taught and it is our nature to both need and desire (subconsciously) God's teaching and 3) we need to understand that the pain of the teaching process is temporary and the things learned from the teaching are valuable and permanent.

When my dad wasn't there to see my anger, my frustration and my feeling of injustice that I was being taught and disciplined I didn't like it.  It hurt and I said and thought some pretty bad things.  I have learned, in my older years, that these lessons have made me able to grow, made me able to learn new things, made me able to see pain for what it really is and made me more understanding of God's perspective.  It has also made me more sure than ever of God's love for me, often expressed in my perception of God's absence.  As I struggle and grow, I wonder if the God of compassion isn't just around the corner, encouraging me and maybe shedding tears for my struggle.  Randy

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