“Mom, I have something to tell you.” says a small voice sitting next to me on the couch.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?” I say.
“I love you and you’re a good mama.” (his words, not mine).
He’s 4 years old now.
Which means that he knows these things (again, his words not mine)
He tells me he loves me with one exception.
He loves me except when I spank him.
I tell him, that I know that spankings are no fun and I sympathize with his plight.
But if I would be a really terrible mom if I just let him do whatever he wanted without giving him boundaries and enforcing those boundaries.
It’s usually about this point in the conversation where he informs me that he can’t wait until he is a grown up so that he doesn’t have to get spankings anymore.
And it’s at this point that I just smile and tell him that discipline is a part of everyone’s life, not just little kids. And that I totally know what he’s going through.
Technically I’ve been disciplined on 4 continents. Which in my mind seems like it should mean something. Like a sympathy cookie or something.
And no, it’s not fun.
Of course it’s not.
And it’s really hard to watch other people live their lives and feel like I’m the only one that God has on a tight leash.
You know, like all the other toddlers at the mall get to walk around without the back-pack that has the monkey tail leash.
Yeah, I’m that kid.
Sometimes, I just want to say, “Seriously God? Seriously? I had glasses and braces as a kid, isn’t that enough discipline? I have to wear the back-pack leash too?”
But after I’ve laid down on the cold tile floor of the mall of life and had my tantrum I sort of realize that God loves me.
And discipline is an expression of that love. It’s not the parent’s that don’t care that put back-pack leashes on their kids. It’s the ones that are protective of their kids.
And I sort of know that.
Submitting to the discipline of God is hard. Maybe I’m pointing out the obvious, but it is what separates the spectators from the children.
Those who only admire God and the sacrifice of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will miss out on the depth and magnitude of relationship.
It will be those who submit to God’s direction and correction that will have that rightness, peace, and joy in their lives.
So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Hebrews 12:5-11 (The Message)
And that’s what I want. To be able to grow in my relationship with God and sometimes that means allowing him to correct some things in my behavior and thinking.
God is still very patient and calm when he disciplines. He isn’t tapping his foot saying, “You should know better” or “I’m disappointed”. He’s saying, “Okay so you need some correction and that’s okay. That’s what I’m here for.” He gives us our discipline but with that he gives us another chance, and another, and another until we get it.
No disparaging comments about how it’s taking us forever to learn this.
No hard yanking on the back-pack leash.
So, when you see that poor kid at the mall. You know, the one with the back-pack leash, smile and know that in a very protective sort of way, you and I are loved.
And maybe if you think about it, offer to buy the poor kid a cookie.