The Discipline of the Lord
I went through a season of several years where my world was turned upside down. I struggled through deep and dark days of depression, self-hatred and generally feeling...lost. I know two things, it was extremely hard, and God allowed it for my good.
I didn't know it but I had made myself responsible for my life in Christ. I had gone to a Christian school, served in all the ministries, gone on all the mission trips, I knew what to do when life came against you. I knew the verses to quote, the faith to have, the prayers to pray. I was completely reliant on what I did for Christ rather than Him. I looked to myself to figure it out or serve my way out of any struggle life would throw at me.
This is a form of religion that looked good, made me feel good about myself, but is not true life in Christ and not what He had died for me to have. A self-reliant performer is a sure-fire recipe for self-destruction on all counts. The Lord knew to leave me in that place, acting that way, confident in myself and knowledge, feeling like I was somehow less in need of God's grace than others because I was a "good girl" would be to watch me destroy my life. So, instead, He disciplined me and corrected my course.
I felt confused and bewildered, mad and bitter for years, mostly because I truly believed that God owed me something better an easier version of my life than what He was asking me to walk through. After all I had sacrificed, all I had tried to obey and serve Him, this is what I get? Watching others get what I have long prayed for? Seriously Lord? Older brother much Ash?
Now, on the other side of the breaking, I can see how wrong and sin-ridden I was, but not then. I thought I knew and I wasn't going to be happy about this. Why couldn't He just make my life easier like I thought He was "supposed to".
Little did I know He was doing exactly what He was supposed to. If I was a legitimate child of His, then it was His job to allow pressure to be put on me until change occurred. Without the pressure or the pain, that would not have happened. Just like good parents, we know to let a child act any way they like or continue in wrong attitudes is to show them the doorway to a more difficult life, a life we want to save them from because we love them.
In Hebrews 12:5-11 it says,
"And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“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.”
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.
We sometimes start to believe that only good and pleasant things come from the Lord, but what discipline is pleasant? It's not possible to bring the change required without the pain to some degree.
Matthew Henry's concise commentary says this about it...
"God may let others alone in their sins, but He will correct sin in His own children. It is always for our profit. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us to gratify their passions, but the Father of our soul never willingly grieves nor afflicts His children. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening maybe born with patience and greatly promote holiness."
My season was long, I believe, because I was so stubborn in surrendering to Him and what He was trying to accomplish in me. It hurt my pride to have been so wrong, how could I accept it and face so many years that I had lived so utterly dependant on myself. I hung onto that pride as long as I could till it felt He was prying that thing from my bony fingers.
When I could no longer save myself I became angry others wouldn't save me. Jesus had been my Savior from hell at 6, but this time of correction in my late 20s-early 30's was Him showing me He was my Savior from myself. I didn't need Him once, I needed Him like the air I was breathing,, saving me over and over again, every day. He had to keep me in that place until I not only knew the Words in Scripture in my head but they became alive.
Refiners fire, sifting, discipline, not fun, nor easy, but a part of our lives as God's children. When we can look for what He is trying to show us, wrong thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, repent and become dependant on Him in a new way, it will produce a "harvest of righteousness".
Often it's on the other side of our season of discipline God is going to produce all we have been praying for. He has to know it's about Him and not it.
Learn more in the video below!
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