Discipline is no fun. And if you know me at all, I shy away from things that aren't fun. I want everything to be celebratory and momentous and cheerful and exhilirating. Most people have to remind themselves to "stop and smell the roses", but I have to remind myself to get my nose out of the roses already and stay on the road. I recognize this about myself and while it can be a good thing (I tend to be more of a Mary than a Martha), it can be a terrible thing (when you realize you aren't obeying God's Word). Ouch.
This week has seemed to have the theme of discipline written all over it. When you homeschool, you get to see every nook and cranny of your children's hearts- the good, the bad, and the ugly parts. And you are forced to deal with them one way or another. Deal with them with discipline and, as God's Word says, "Correct your son and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul" (Prov. 29:17). Deal with them by ignoring them and letting them grow, and there is no rest or delight to your soul. Or to anyone else's soul in the house. I've been asking God for wisdom daily for quite awhile now, and He seems to be pointing out all these character issues in my children that I didn't see clearly before, and demanding that I deal with them. For their own good as well as mine. These issues that seem small now, will be to their great detriment as adults if left undisciplined. Making excuses for poor work, blaming others for their problems, disobedient hearts only get uglier and messier with time. God has reminded me that "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." (Prov. 29:15).
Not by accident I'm sure, we arrived at the section of Hebrews on Wednesday that is about God's discipline toward us. I am so thankful that God saved this passage for this week in my life. I realized that I have greatly misunderstood it. I always thought it was only about the type of discipline where we are paying consequences for sins we've committed- which of course, can be part of discipline as well. But Bro. Greg pointed out that the word used there for discipline is the type of training and admonition parents are constantly doing to help their children grow. Which changed the whole perspective for me. It's about God's setting of boundaries and rules to help us in the sanctification process. Like our children, we have character issues that have to be dealt with. Rough edges that need to be smoothed out; things that need to be perfected to be more like Him. The thing that makes His discipline toward me so much better than mine toward my children, is that He is completely sovereign over it. He knows me inside and out and is never blinded toward any of my shortcomings. He knows everything about me. He knows exactly what I need in my life to become better. And He allows those things ALWAYS for my own good. In fact, He disciplines because HE loves me and cares so much about me becoming like His Son. Unlike my discipline of my children, His is never in a fit of rage, is always wise, and is perfectly measured. Like parents, His goal is to make me better. Hebrews 12:10-11 says that He disciplines me that I may share in His holiness, and that if I will submit to it and allow myself to be trained by it, I will reap a harvest of righteousness. This makes it all worth it.
I've been reading through the Old Testament and I'm in Exodus right now. Over and over again, God says, "I am the Lord!" and "Then you will know that I am the Lord!" He has to remind His people that He is in charge. He is the Lord. And over and over again, there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. I noticed a cycle in the Bible: Failure to obey God's Word always leads to enslavement. But obeying Him always leads to freedom and victory. May I remember this as I read His Word and as I discipline my children: we can live in obedience and be free, or we can live in disobedience and bring shame, disgrace, even enslavement.