Rest assured the only way you’ll ever see a photo of me in a swimsuit is from a distance, and submerged in water. I promise that’s me. (Last Thursday at 11:14 am to be exact).
But, this story doesn’t begin with me doing swim drills. It begins with the Lord revealing His desire to discipline me.
I didn’t get it at first. Remember when the Lord told me to be an ox? Well, He didn’t immediately reveal the entire job description, which is clearly proof we worship a truly gracious and generous God. But it wasn’t long until I realized I was headed straight into a season of deep pruning.
At our first leadership meeting after the holidays, our bible study lecturer asked each of us to share the spiritual attribute (one word) we felt God working within us. I was the last one in the circle to share, and for a split second I considered changing mine to something more appealing like faith or grace. But there was no denying what spiritual attribute the Lord assigned to me: Discipline. Just to show you how hard I was dragging my heels into this pruning session, I actually tried to split my word into two Discipline/Discipleship. See:
But the look from our leader sitting by my side said it all ‘one word’. As I was still scratching my head wondering how this whole DISCIPLINE thing was going to shake out, I almost missed the instruction to pray for scripture that would serve as our memory verse for the year. Let me just confess right here right now that my first reaction to DISCIPLINE wasn’t with the most joyful of hearts. I felt like a child. Hmmmm….
Here are a few things scripture tells us about discipline.
First, when I’m looking for practical advice on how to live I generally go straight to Proverbs. And guess what? The very purpose of Proverbs is to teach us how to attain wisdom, discipline, and understanding. Read Proverbs 1: 1 – 7 to see how the book promises to guide us. As you can imagine there are numerous references to discipline in Proverbs. My favorite right now is:
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
and do no resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 3: 11 – 12
God gives us reassurance that He disciplines those he loves. His purpose? To train, correct, and instruct us in His ways. It’s not to harm us, but to make us more holy for Him. Does that mean it will hurt? At times, probably. And that it might require struggle or sorrow? Most likely. But take a look at what Job has to say about discipline for more reassurance:
Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
Job 5: 17
The entire twelfth chapter of Hebrews is a lesson on how God disciplines his people. My memory verse on discipline (you know the one I’m supposed to cling to!) is from Hebrews 12:
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.
Hebrews 12: 11
Over the next few weeks, as time and humility allow, I will share with you how the Lord is disciplining me in various aspects of my life. The photo of me swimming is a clue that one of the ways is physical discipline. But, He is also working in my marriage, my relationship with the Littles, how I run our household, my time management, and most of all my heart. So far, some of the discipline has been uncomfortable and I have already made difficult decisions out of obedience with consequences I would not have chosen. But, we can’t forget the joyful promises in these verses! He loves us! Blessed will be those whom He disciplines! And, a harvest of righteousness and peace awaits!
Why me? Why discipline? Because He loves me. And for the past 10 years I have asked Him to mold me, shape me, and use me for the glory of His Kingdom. He is a faithful God. His promises are true. And He is working in me so that He can work through me. For what? Only He knows. But this is why I write. To share the story of what happens when an ordinary, sinner like me choses to be a follower of Jesus Christ.