Discipline. I certainly have a love/hate relationship with this word. I’m a type A person that requires order and organization to function well. When I’ve been disciplined about my schedule, everything seems manageable and peaceful and the order calms me. In the absence of discipline, I feel overwhelmed, anxious and like I have failed.
I read this scripture this morning and it jumped off the page at me.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”Hebrews 12:11
What are those areas of discipline that seem unpleasant to you? Some of mine are:
- Diet and Exercise (THE WORST!).
- Keeping to my schedule . . . ignoring distractions!
- Completing projects before starting new ones.
But self-discipline is just one type of discipline. There is the other kind, however, that comes because we didn’t practice it on our own. That’s what Paul is really talking about in this passage. Through this entire chapter in Hebrews, he conveys a portrait of the loving Father disciplining his sons and daughters. He reminds us what we already know—discipline is not pleasant at the time, but painful.
I remember when my extended family was going through a season of bad choices and lack of discipline. It wasn’t because we were trying to make bad choices and hurt one another. We each, individually, thought we were doing the right things and making right decisions, but, in fact, the enemy had deceived us and we were “in our feelings” and far from listening to the voice of our Father. It cost us more than I can even convey to you. For my husband and my children, it cost us our home, our business, our ministry, many friendships and worst of all, lost time and relationship with our precious family who we dearly love.
We decided to move and start over somewhere else. We began new jobs in a winery in the middle of nowhere in a state we swore we would never live. We even justified our move as “God’s plan”, but looking back, I now see it as “a Father’s discipline.” I cried, a lot! I questioned God, a lot! I pointed fingers and blamed other people . . . a lot! I held bitterness, anger and hurt and couldn’t see past my own feelings. I tried to make sense of it, now looking back, I see that God’s hand of loving discipline was all over that season. We were unhappy, to say the least. We were grieving what we had lost and trying to move forward with what little we had left.
I’ll never forget the day that the word went out to all the staff that we were all to dress casually, wear comfortable shoes and bring gloves to work the following day. It was harvest time. My husband and I were on the corporate staff, but harvest time meant that everyone from the CEO down was in the vineyard harvesting grapes. There we all were, mucking through the wet grass and mud and filling baskets with plump, beautiful grapes covered with the morning dew. We were all together, from the CEO to the groundskeepers, joking and laughing and enjoying this day, together. I’ll have to say it was one of my favorite times while working there. It was a good day.
Harvest time. I remember all the struggles that each of us faced, leading up to that day, to bring the grape harvest to fruition. In the corporate office, we worked to create streams of income to produce ongoing revenue to keep things going while those grapes developed. The groundskeepers fought weather and pestilence to bring that harvest to fruition. There was so much discipline needed from everyone and that day proved to be a joyful occasion to celebrate our efforts. We seemed to forget the struggles that led up to that day and smiling and laughter was abundant. The discipline had produced a harvest. Even though I didn’t want to be there and was still grieving what was once my life, God was speaking to my aching heart and in His most loving way, He was showing me His mercy. He was caring for me and my family while we walked through this painful season and He was loving us like only a Father can. There was a harvest of righteousness and peace that day as I realized that I am nothing without my Father and when I lean completely on Him, He is more than enough to cover my greatest mistakes and give me peace that passes all understanding. He can take my “screw ups” and turn them into bountiful harvests of righteousness and peace.
Paul reminds us of the passage,
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”Proverbs 3:11-12
He goes on to say,
“Endure hardship as discipline: God is treating you as sons . . .”Hebrews 12:7a
He loves us enough to let us endure the pain of discipline. He is protecting us, conditioning us, and teaching us through all the trials we walk through. He is always beside us, never leaving us and always comforting us. He is a good Father.
And finally, Paul says,
“. . . strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”Hebrews 12:12-13
Let’s just unpack that passage a bit. Not only is God our loving Father who brings discipline, He is also our encouraging coach who pushes us forward to come full circle back to that “self-discipline” part where we decide to discipline ourselves in every area of our lives so that we don’t have to “endure” the “pain” of having to BE disciplined. I’m encouraged to be thankful for the Father’s discipline. I’m thankful that He loves me enough to allow me to “endure” difficult situations so that I can walk in righteousness and peace. I’m thankful that He coaches me every day and shows me the areas where I need more discipline and lovingly prods me to strengthen those areas of my life that have become feeble because of the lack of it. Then, there is the “healing” that comes for my heart that has sometimes become “disabled” because of the pain of my mistakes and hurts so that I can continue to run this race.
It’s HARVEST TIME my friends, and it’s a good day!