As a parent I believe in disciplining your child. And I do discipline my son.
I believe that discipline takes different forms depending on what it was that my son did to warrant the discipline.
I also believe in having grace and giving chances being that he’s only three and is still learning to understand the different between right and wrong, or to just simply listen to what I may ask him to do at any given moment. But all in all I don’t enjoy disciplining my son. I don’t enjoy giving him a little spanking on the bottom or even raising my voice at him.
But it must be done.
Now before you go and think it, let me clarify that this is not a post about the parallels of me as a father and God the Father and how He disciplines us, etc, etc. This is not that. But I saw something the other day that caught my attention within that realm.
At this stage my son likes to say no to everything. I tell him to do something, he says no. I ask him again, he says no. He says no to a lot of things as of late, and my wife and I are trying our best to break this new little habit.
So I had to discipline my son the other day because of this very thing. I warned him first, but to no avail. He still disobeyed. So I gave him a little whack on his bottom. Not hard, not a full swing, just enough to get his attention and to let him know he did something wrong. And like most times my son cries.
But he doesn’t just cry.
After being disciplined, my son opens his arms and wants to be held by me, or in his own words, among the tears and snot, “let me hug you”.
Now this has happened numerous times (no I don’t beat my kid, so don’t call child protective services on me), but this never stood out to me as it did this particular night.
So do you see what he did? Did you get that?
I disciplined him, I hurt him with my little whack on the bottom, and his reaction is what… he wants me to hold and comfort him.
Not that he gets mad and walks away. Not that he wants to lash out and retaliate. Not that he screams and questions why did I do that and he doesn’t agree with it. Not that he feels like I should have disciplined him another way. No, he took the punishment and then wants me, the ‘punisher’, to comfort him.
Hebrews 12 says this. (emphasis mine)
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.”
God disciplines us because He loves us, because He’s forming us more into His own image, because He can’t leave us the way we are. Sometimes it’s just because we’re acting a fool and He needs to put us back in our place. But His correction is always out of love for us. It’s never to hurt us, though at times it hurts.
Now here’s the question and parallel.
What if we as His children, reacted to His loving discipline, the way my son reacts to me when I discipline him?
I know that I’ve had numerous ‘arguments’ (if you even want to call them that), with God about and during certain times in my life where I felt like how He handled a certain situation wasn’t the best way. And instead of taking comfort in the Father’s arms and His love and intentions for me, I instead ranted and raved, shook my fist, cried, and ran away. I didn’t ask for a ‘hug’ like my son does.
I didn’t run to the only one who could then help me understand, who could comfort me, who could bring perspective, who could love on me and heal me. I ran away, and fell into pits of anger, hurt, distrust, and offense.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not of the opinion that we can’t feel these things like we’re not human, but there’s a stark difference when we do it while still communicating with God as opposed to doing this and turning away from God. God is big enough to handle our humanity, He made us remember? It doesn’t freak God out when we say we’re angry or hurt and we don’t understand. If anything I can hear Him say, “Then come, let’s reason together”.
And again I admit, I’m not the best at this myself. I’ve spent a lot of time mad at God the last couple of years. And instead of dealing with it with His help, I suffered unnecessarily because I was too stubborn and immature to push through the ‘crowd’ of my emotions to touch His garment and be healed in the comfort of His embrace.
Wasted time I will never get back.
I’m getting better though.
God’s discipline can be a tough pill to swallow at times, but He’s not like earthly Father’s that discipline and then bounce. He’s there to pick us up, hug us, and reaffirm His love and approval of us. He doesn’t find joy in disciplining us, but it’s necessary, so He’ll do it because He loves us so much.
So this may just be for me, but if you’re like me at all, the next time God puts you in your place, don’t run away. Run to the Father, take comfort in His embrace, where He can speak loving kindness over you.
It’s better that way.
“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.”