Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday's Musings: Discipline

I have been struggling lately, struggling to hear God’s voice, struggling to feel close to him, struggling with the feeling of incredible dryness. I can’t get over this feeling that I cannot quite get to where I should be. I have highs, where I feel purposeful, useful, close to God, filled with the Spirit…but then I slip back into the desert yet again. It’s been a point of great frustration lately. I have prayed again and again for relief, and the only answer returned to me is: “Seek me and you will find me.”
And my heart rebels against that answer. I am weak and tired, God. I want things to be easy. I don’t have the energy for this. I cry out, Why can’t you just come find me like you did before?”
But things are different this time. I am not who I was before. I have learned that this too is part of the discipleship process. I am not trapped, unable to free myself. No, this time, I hear, Pursue me. If you truly want me, run after me. I will be found, if you are willing to pursue.
It’s called discipline.
I’ve been living a lot in Hebrews 12 lately. It’s a great chapter, if you’re not familiar with it. In it, the author talks about stripping off everything that holds us back, and running full out this race God has set out for us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, not getting discouraged because we realize that the difficulties that we must bear are only a small fraction of those that Christ did. And then it goes into some encouraging words that have to do with….God disciplining us? It didn’t make sense to me at first. So I’m supposed to take comfort in the fact that I did something wrong and things suck right now because I’m being punished? But I was wrong. Discipline, while most strongly associated timeouts and grounding from my childhood for me, does not mean punishment. Rather, it’s part of growing, part of maturing, part of being transformed into a new creation. I discipline myself to be a better pianist, better student, better friend. And now, God is disciplining me to better reflect him. He is the God who pursues me. Now I must become the one who pursues God. Wholeheartedly, passionately, nothing withheld.
Hebrews 12:10b-12 reads:
“God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening- it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”
And later on, it reminds us:
“You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things…you have come to Jesus who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance…Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.” (from 12:22-29)
I am pursuing the God above all others, the one who is holy and awesome and full of power, deserving of awe and fear, all honor and glory. Such privilege is mine.

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