Get some clothes on.
I taught my children to get dressed fairly early on in their childhood, thinking it would serve them well in the future. Sure enough, to this very day they almost always get dressed at some point in their day and everyone is glad because of it. The training has been worth it. It had purpose behind it. I hoped that they would be able to function well in society and not have to waste time in adulthood over issues so elementary as clothing. (I’m not saying that they don’t grimace at some of those early pictures and say “Mom, how could you let me wear that?!”)
I’m thinking about the word discipline, and the hard times we go through. If God has us in his sights, he promises that we are going to be under discipline. He says it’s his fatherly duty, like any parent who teaches a child something in order for them to make it through life. I’m sometimes tempted to substitute the word “punishment” for discipline, but punishment is only one element of a much larger picture. I wasn’t punishing my daughters in teaching them to get dressed. But interestingly, it may have felt that way to them at times.
I’m going through some hard times lately. Almost on a daily basis there is something happening that could be described as painful – physically, emotionally and/or spiritually. I have to ask myself if I’m being punished or trained. Either way, I’m told by the entity I consider to be my father that it is because I’m loved and he wants me to be ready, calm and peaceful, and productive in the future. He tells me I will think it is painful, but that he wants me to be encouraged by it because it WILL have good results.
When hard times go on far longer than I would think necessary for effective discipline, it’s tempting to think there’s no point to it, no loving father behind it, probably no end in sight. This point of despair and giving up is exactly what I am being trained to beat. To be an overcomer, means I’ve had practice dealing with things that are hard to overcome. It’s hard to wait. I can get really tired of words like patient endurance and long suffering. That’s why the words jumped out at me this morning, “you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood”. Oh, yeah.
I’m just saying that having this perspective from a source I take to be credible, actually does encourage me and make me feel like I am loved even in a hard place. I’m not expected to always solve the problems I’m facing. I don’t have to figure out what’s going on. All I have to do is acknowledge that a capable God sees and is at work in my situation. I get to be expectant, cooperative, alert, watchful for that purpose that might be behind it all. I’m learning to get dressed for the future – a good thing.
*My credible source this morning was the word of God, a letter written to Hebrews, chapter 12 and verses 4 – 11 . These people had it rough too and God was encouraging them through their pastor, a man named Paul.