It seems like I’m always talking about discipline, and that’s because it’s a pretty big part of my life. Chastening has been the catalyst for the truest and closest encounters with God that I’ve experienced. For me, chastening is the Cross behind the wheel of a M1 Abrams tank.
I used to hate being disciplined – and I don’t exactly LOVE it yet – but the more I am disciplined by God, the more I embrace it. God’s discipline is wholly unlike humanity’s version. The Holy Spirit really does move like the wind, blowing this way and that and turning on a dime. We humans hold on to offenses; that is our nature. It is a work to forgive and truly miraculous to forget. But when God is satisfied, it’s over. Over and forgotten, and the Spirit is off on something else.
Now, it’s unlikely that I’m the only person who struggles with a warped and terrified view of discipline and the Cross and all the “hard” teachings in the Bible. There IS suffering in this life; Jesus Christ didn’t hide that in the fine print. He’s up front about the suffering (John 16:33). What gets lost is the reward.
I’m not talking about blessings, material or otherwise. I’m talking about the reward on the other side of the Cross. I’m talking about the life-shattering experience that is being loved by God without obstacle. The reward of glimpsing Majesty so otherworldly that words fail when you try to convey it.
God’s forgiveness and love is so thorough that I am utterly undone by it. The weight of grace that covers me at my lowest is indescribable, and the speed at which the Spirit moves is dizzying. One moment I’m drowning in the guilt and shame of who I am and what I’ve done, and the next I’m being hugged and kissed and “Hey, now! Let’s get you something to eat!” To be seen and known, down to the darkest corner of my heart, and then LOVED – that’s what waits for me at the end of every chastening-repentance-surrender experience. I kneel before my King, clean.
This blog is about how to get along with God. Well, I don’t know how you do that without the Cross. John’s post on the reality of a new creation brilliantly high-lighted Colossians 3:10 in the Amplified Bible:
And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self],
which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded
into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge
after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.
My new creation is reality AND a process. Divine paradox! The Cross and all it entails (chastening, confrontation, separation, discipline – death to the old me) is the very heart of this process. The Cross exposes and attacks every part of me rooted in unbelief that I am a new creation. And this unbelief of mine is not benign or passive; my unbelief is virulent and violent opposition to God – always. It does not die quietly.
But the aftermath – sooner or later – of each bloody battle is the divine and miraculous bliss of Resurrection Life. The hindrance has been removed and I am reconciled to my God in the fullness of His love and mercy. The experience of the Cross may vary, but the reward doesn’t. HE is the reward. Without the Cross, which gains me Christ, this life is ultimately as dead and stupid and pointless as any other. What is so-called morality and character without the reward? I keep my eyes on the prize because this process establishes for me just how priceless He is.