Pursued: Discipline

discipline

As Jonah turns back to God in his distress, giving thanks for his life, he also shows us God’s response is one of…

Discipline (Jonah 2:3-7) You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head (some people pay good money for that). To the roots of the mountain I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.

Here Jonah experiences God’s seemingly heavy handedness—he doesn’t hold back…YOU hurled me into the deep, I’ve been BANISHED, ENGULFED, THREATENED, SURROUNDED, he starts describing a grave. He reveals that we never can truly experience the new life God calls us to until we are willing to stop clinging to the ways of the old life. Discipline starts cutting us off from what threatens to drown us. We don’t particularly like discipline. A 2-minute time out for a child of two minutes is enough to drive them crazy, but discipline has a purpose—it associates pain with rebellion. Just like your parents probably smacked your bottom as you started to run into the street. They wanted you to remember a small amount of pain in order to avoid a significant amount later.Sometimes though discipline feels misdirected. While patrolling the streets of his small country town, a new deputy feeling pretty proud of his badge gave citations for every infraction he could find. When a car came rushing by with out of state license plates, he immediately turned on his siren and lights and pulled over the driver. The young man jumped from his car and tried to explain his emergency but the officer perceived the verbal initiative as a threat so he cuffed the man and hauled him off to jail. Every time the guy tried to speak, the deputy exercised his authority and insisted on silence.  After making the arrest and feeling confident he had demonstrated the complete power of his badge, the deputy started an autocratic monologue with his prisoner. He smugly said, “Lucky for you, ‘fly boy,’ the chief is at his daughter’s wedding and will be in a good mood when he finally gets here to see you.” The prisoner replied, “I wouldn’t count on it, Barney. I’m the groom!”

Discipline gets associated with a withholding of our favorite toy, being spanked by our parents, going into time out, or a rejection our freedom, but hear God’s purpose in disciplining those he loves— Hebrews 12:10-11– 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Discipline not to break you but to remake you into the image of Christ.

Humans have an amazing ability to remember pain far better than we remember prosperity. The Great Depression generation decades later still remembered the pain and lived accordingly. While God’s discipline is thorough, his grace was still abundant- (6b) But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away I remembered you LORD, and my prayer rose to you to your holy temple.

 

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