There is snow on the ground here in central Virginia! Imagine that - in the middle of March! God certainly has a way keeping us on our toes, doesn't he? Hopefully your Monday is off to a fantastic start. Wherever you are and whatever the weather is there, I hope you're being safe!
I had a conversation with a coworker this morning that coincides perfectly with today's inbox note. My friend was telling me about her son. He's a 9th grader at a school here in the Richmond area and is having a bit of trouble with finding motivation and passion towards... basically anything. Like any good parent, my friend is doing what she can to help him find something to inspire him. She's encouraging him to try new things and pushing him toward things that might awaken some kind of drive and motivation.
For his part, he isn't liking his mom's approach very much. He's at that age where indifference is the disposition that's "cool". So, his mom's push toward different experiences and opportunities is met with resistance. He asks her "Mom, why do I have to do this? I don't want to!"
When her son replies this way, it aggravates my friend. She wants her son to understand what she's trying to do. But how can you effectively explain to a teen that it is important to find passionate paths early in life? How can she make him see that he needs to devote his energies constructively if he is to ever make something of himself? Her teenage son isn't likely to grasp all of this. All he sees is what is right before him. He does not yet have a concept of the future or what he will need to be successful in that future.
Because his perspective is so limited by his lack of life experience, my friend has to put her foot down with her son. When he asks why he has participate in the things she pushes him toward, she tells him, "you have to do it because I'm the adult here and I'm looking out for your best interest. I know what's best for your right now."
My coworker is a great parent. She's doing the right thing. She's disciplining her son and appropriately using her authority as his mother to direct his life in a positive direction. Our Father God takes a similar approach with those of us who are his children.. Hebrews 12 highlights this fact:
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 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.
Through the twists and turns of life, it is easy to lose sight of this truth. God is our Father and our role as his children is to submit ourselves to his direction and discipline. Just as my friend has a much broader understanding of life than her son does, so too does our Father God have a much broader perspective on our lives. Greater still, God has the supreme perspective of all time and creation, knowing exactly what is coming down the road for us, what challenges we will face and what pitfalls await us on our paths. Knowing this, how much more should we submit to the Father?
My friend has warned her son about rebelling against her discipline. She's made it clear to him the more he resists the more it is going to cost him. God's discipline works the same way. We can rebel against his direction and discipline all we want. We only hurt ourselves. Ask Jonah. No amount of our own resistance will ever serve to thawrt God's divine plan. His will will be done.
True. It is hard to submit. Everything in our nature and our culture tells us that submission is for the weak. Our egos tell us there is nothing and no one with more authority than self and our society feeds this ideal. Its true, all of us struggle - at least from time to time - with god complexes, wanting to assume autonomy for ourselves. Freud was right about this: our egos do in fact want to be God. Submission is not a part ofour natural psychology.
But, if we are new in Christ, then we are to be conformed to his way. Over and over again we see in the gospels that he deferred to his Father's will - even unto the cross. Of course, Jesus never needed to be disciplined. He was without sin. But his example shows us how to submit to God's discipline nonetheless - "not my will by thy will be done."
This week, let's seek out areas in our lives where we might be resisting God's discipline. Let's look to spaces where we can sacrifice our wills on the alter of God's grace. For this we know - our Father knows best!
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.
Here are our questions for the week:
- What does it mean to submit?
- Do I really belive God knows more than me?
- Do I have spaces in my life currently where I know I am being rebellious against God's leadership?
- Are there places where I know I've spiritually rebelled in the past and can see where my rebellion has been costly?
- How would might my current circumstances or state of mind look differently if I had responded in those places with submission instead of rebellion?