As I was trying to think about what to write about this month, my mind attempted to stand still. I have been at a newish job now for a few weeks and feel like, for the first time in a few years I am getting proper sleep at night and still have a working, functioning brain at the end of the day!
This is breakthrough. I feel like I have been learning how to organize my time more productively, via the helpful phone calendar and my trusty Filofax. These things have revolutionized my life, focusing my mind on what needs doing and what takes priority.
Or it is the case also, that God has been speaking to me on discipline and determination; AKA the spiritual plank! In a previous article I remember writing about the fact that God was developing my core spiritual muscles and it still feel like this is the case.
The action of developing discipline speaks of a kind of learning that is unarguably dry and lets face it, a tad unexciting. When you want God to move, maybe I am alone here but I want things yesterday, in a pretty box without me having to do any work right? Discipline in your Christian journey is something that is really important and yet it gets missed off because it does not sound so glamorous or exciting.
What I feel like as I am called to discipline myself by God is that somehow I am wayward and a bit all over the shop. There is a part of me that feels that the discipline of God somehow also has condemnation attached – like “If you just worked harder, organized yourself better and planked more then I would move through you”. Can anyone else relate?
Why negative connotations
I was thinking about potential reasons why discipline has negative connotations. I remember going to school and thinking that people that maybe were a little naughty as children would get told off in the classroom.
It felt right at the time, but I was reading something today that suggested that a child that acts up in the classroom is saying something in their behavior.( It made me wonder what my school-friends were silently saying to those that perhaps could have listened harder).
The child in question would inevitably been told off in class, which would have bought shame on them and inevitable reaction from their friends, ranging from laughing to isolation. The child would have therefore associated discipline with negativity.
My grownup response to discipline is similarly childish. I have experienced times in my professional and personal life when feedback which has intended to be constructive has inevitably resulted in me walking round with my fingers through my ears going “la la la la “ !
I am sure that you can picture it! I have not wanted to engage in being disciplined because I have felt like they have been criticizing me with no interest in my journey or character. It has felt like the grown-up equivalent of the cane. The burn marks heal, but they take time don’t they? Given the negative personal experiences I have had of discipline I feel almost more justified in going to God, when he gives me feedback which is for my benefit and saying “nope, not doing that”.
In thinking of instances where God had to be a bit of a disciplinarian my mind is inevitably drawn back to the Old Testament. After bringing his chosen people out of slavery he must have been excited and overwhelmed by love for them – after all here were his children, finally free and available for him to dwell with and to love.
God loves our company and rejoices over us. He is complete in the Trinity but he WANTS to hang out with us. Also consider this. When the Israelites were slaves my guess is that they were pretty much ordered around, to the extent where they probably were not able to do anything without someone’s permission. Now all of a sudden they have this freedom, which will inevitably mean one thing “PART-AEY” only joking.
Seriously though, if you were an Israelite you would have been thinking, freedom is here! God in his wisdom came up with guidelines and commands in order to discipline and guide the Israelites in their new lives. It was not meant to stop them having fun, but rather to make sure that they were safe.
One thing that I feel compelled to point out is this – God always says “if you”… “then you” meaning that there is an output or consequence to obedience and an output or non-blessing to disobedience.
God said that if we obey him and do things his way and in his timing and “plank” that the consequences of that are blessing and that if we disobey and ignore his promptings that there is a consequence or curse to go with that. As stark a choice as this sounds, it makes discipline have a context.
It brings discipline into light. When I was thinking of rules – and why they are done I thought of marriage. Marriage is – I love you and I am putting this in writing, and it is kind of a rule isn’t it? The vows are kind-of rules. This is done out of love.
In conclusion, God talks of his people being like a bride. A marriage requires guidelines for it to be a success. I want my relationship with God to be a success and to have fruit. So if we commit to the discipline that God, in his love gives us we can have a successful, long and happy relationship with him. What is my tip for the autumn? Learn to plank.
Rosie Robinson lives in England and has a young writer for this program for 4 years.