Discipline is not usually a word we think of in a positive sense. By definition, it means, training to act in accordance with rules or an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill. And then there’s self-discipline…training of oneself, usually for improvement.
I remember the first time someone used the word self-disciplined to describe me. It was my fourth grade teacher. We kept daily journal writings as part of our writing curriculum. I am not sure what the particulars were that I had journaled about except that it had something to do with wanting to be a writer. She wrote a short note back to me about how self-disciplined I was, and she admired that. I had to look up self-disciplined to see what it meant…no one had ever used that word before to describe me.
But discipline…just the word discipline…is something we usually think of in a negative sense. We discipline our children when they disobey. We discipline out of love although our children certainly do not appreciate the discipline. Just this morning, my son was told he couldn’t play his video games because he didn’t put away the controllers. Believe me, he is not saying, “Oh, mom, thank you so much for not allowing me to play my video games this morning.” But, I’m sure he’ll remember to put the controllers away next time.
What about discipline from God? Recently, our Sunday School lesson was on discipline.
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So, He humbled you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deuteronomy 8:2-5
That passage from Deuteronomy is referring to the desert experience that the Israelites experienced after their release from Egypt. It’s easy to whine along the way when things aren’t going our way, and life is hard and God seems distant, but He may be disciplining us in preparation for His future plans for our lives.
Discipline is not usually fun. My work situation tends to be negative…I am trying to remain positive, trying to surrender, and learn the lessons that God desires for me to learn. This discipline is hard, but I am growing in my faith in ways that would not be possible without enduring the hardships along the way. My current health issues are also teaching me to further surrender and lean on Him.
Discipline encourages me to trust God more and to rely on Him.
What lessons might He be wanting to teach you through His loving discipline?