Friday, May 16, 2014

"Life is hard, then you die" Pessimist's creed

I'm in the middle of a time of discipline; a time of difficulty, pruning, hostility, a year of grayness without much color. My life feels like one of those photos where everything has been turned to shades of gray, except for one or two splashes of color. 

The author of Hebrews writes to people in the midst of hardship and talks about enduring discipline. 

What is discipline? 

The discipline being talked about in Hebrews 12 refers to external events or situations that are intended to remedy or heal internal character weaknesses. Discipline is a process of being made fit for duty, fit for service, fit for life. God has arranged our lives, our personal situations to serve as our drill sergeants, to hone our bodies and minds until we are ready to serve well.

My 13 year old grandson sleeps sprawled kitty corner across the bed we bought for him when he was still in kindergarten. It seemed so big then. Now his legs dangle off one side while his arm drags on the floor on the other side of the bed. Someday he'll be .... well, that depends on the discipline, training, love he receives now AND how he responds to it.

I'm 61 years young and I'm having to unlearn patterns of thinking and habits that I spent a lifetime forming. It would have been easier if I had got it right the first time, but it's okay - this old dog will learn some new tricks.  Young or old, we will encounter discipline. How should we respond to discipline, hardship, pruning, etc.?

Think about Jesus: 

"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. " 

We like to compare ourselves to others around us, usually to people who are better off than we are. Bad idea! If you are going to compare yourself to anyone, compare yourself to Jesus. Watch the Passion of the Christ  again to see how your suffering compares to his. He didn't do anything to deserve his suffering, but rather endured all for you and me.

Remember who you are:

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.    For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”    It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
The word "son" is used 5 times. We are "sons of God". I'm under training by my heavenly Father who loves and receives me. I'm part of the family of God, but the expectations are high in this family, and I'm going to be disciplined, trained and shaped.

Understand, keep in mind the purpose of discipline

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  

After I have undergone discipline I will share his holiness. My life will have in it the peaceful fruit of righteousness. I will be someone who has been trained by my heavenly Father. I will be so heavenly minded that I can't but be of great earthly good.

Suck it up! 

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

We need to (I need to) suck it up, take responsibility, respond rightly, make sure that I do my part so that this discipline and training leads to my healing. There are at least 3 actions I can take: lift up drooping hands, strengthen weak knees, and make straight paths. I'll explore them on another day.