Parenthood is full of seasons, many good, others hard and we can feel stuck in them for what seems like an eternity and yet suddenly in a moment they have passed. One such season is that of discipline. Over the last few years we have seen particular seasons where discipline has been needed more than others. Times where it seemed our son was testing the boundaries at almost every opportunity, where behaviour was less than angelic, and we have had to be stricter. It can begin to feel like it will never end and then in a moment the behaviour improves, they learn, move on and mature.
But sometimes we can forget that God also disciplines us. Punishes us, NO! But disciplines us - allowing us to walk through things in order to learn something important, yes! Are you stuck in a season of discipline right now?
We discipline because we love our children, but more importantly because some things they just have to learn. They have to learn to listen when Mummy & Daddy say no. They need to understand, for their own safety, that some things are just not ok. And they need to learn to listen, even when they don't understand, because many times, parents just know best. But these seasons can seem tough.
I suddenly thought about how God must feel when we go through seasons like this.
We have been in that season over the last few weeks. A season, albeit temporary, of reminding, insisting, warning and having to discipline. As I was walking to school this morning having had to give my son yet another warning and then follow through with that particular consequence, feeling somewhat saddened about how many times already that morning we had had to count to 3 and give stern instruction, I suddenly thought about how God must feel when we go through seasons like this.
There's this phrase we heard a while back which we now say to our son. "Right away, all the way, happy way." When we ask him to do something we expect him to do it straight away, fully, and with a good attitude. When he doesn't there is a consequence. But isn't this the same with us? God asks or tells us to do something. We don't. Or we delay. There's a consequence. Perhaps we don't always spot it at first but later when we are in the thick of a storm or less than ideal situation, we can almost look back and see "if I had only listened more then this could have been avoided".
Maybe God gave us an idea we didn't pursue. Perhaps he told us not to take an action, we thought better. Maybe he warned us away from something but we thought it far too appealing. Whatever it may be often our actions lead to a consequence. Not because God wants to punish us, far from it. But because some lessons are important to learn, and if we don't listen, perhaps God will keep allowing us to face a certain situation until we finally submit. Because our Father wants us to be safe and to walk in maturity. Isn't this the whole point of discipline!
Over the last four years I have walked through some tough things that I would have much rather avoided however as I look back I realise something: there were areas in my life where my Father had given me opportunities to obey Him. Areas where He had even told me to do things and yet I hadn't. Not that I had seen it as disobedience, but fear had crept in and the things He had laid on my heart to do, opportunities he had laid before me, I hadn't taken.
What followed were tough lessons. Things that were hard but areas I believe He allowed me to walk through which very probably saddened Him. Areas where I felt like I suffered in those moments, probably as my son felt when he has received a consequence for his behaviour, but areas that were important in order that I might learn something. That He is my Father, and what He says, every time, is important.
Maybe there are things we don't understand, maybe what He has asked us to do feels difficult, or not quite as we'd like, perhaps it's the complete opposite of what we'd like to do. Will we trust Him? Will we acknowledge that He is our Father and knows best? And above all, will we remember that He loves us more than anything, and the thing He tells us to do is told in love.
I wish I'd listened when He first asked me to do some things. I wish I hadn't put off dealing with those issues in my heart where He was teaching me, because honestly the longer I left it the lessons got harder, felt tougher. But I am so glad that He still loves me enough to lead me through. He still taught me those things I needed and the freedom on the other side is so much better.
Have you ever walked through seasons like this? Are you in one now? What has He been teaching you through it?