The Gift of Discipline by Lanie Anderson

 

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Maggie is our only child right now.

Maggie is also a fifteen-pound puppy with much more energy and intrigue than her parents can sometimes manage.

After we finish our meals, Maggie loves to clean our dishes, lapping up any trace of “human food” left on our plates. (I only wish her efforts really cleaned our dishes like our dishwasher does.)

After guests left our house one evening, Maggie placed her front feet on the edge of our farm table, inhaling the aroma of chocolate chip cookies placed in the middle of the table.

“Maggie, you can’t have those cookies,” my husband said. “You don’t know it, but that human food isn’t good for you.”

Although it is common sense that human food is unhealthy for dogs, God used this simple exchange between Maggie and my husband to reveal that my dog and me aren’t so different.

Like Maggie, you and I crave our own “human food” that we think will satisfy the longings of our souls. Your human food might be different than mine, but some examples are gossip, success, a busy schedule, money, a relationship, beauty, and so on. Regardless of what it is, our human foods are like leaky, manmade plugs that we use in our attempts to fill the God-sized holes of our souls.

But God, our heavenly Father, disciplines us as his children in order to reveal those human foods that we crave, much like my husband wouldn’t let Maggie have those chocolate chip cookies because he knew they were bad for her.

Hebrews 12:5-6 from The Message reminds us that we are God’s children and are disciplined as such: “Have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as children? ‘My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.’”

God’s discipline does not come easily or naturally to us because we hold tightly to those human foods we think will satisfy us. But God still loves us as his children, and in his discipline he patiently loosens our grip and shows us that we are made for more.

Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (ESV).

God is not only our Father, but also our Creator who knows what we need to thrive in life and in our relationships with him and with others. As he disciplines us, he reveals what food really satisfies our souls—the hope and life found in Jesus Christ.

Although discipline might feel “painful rather than pleasant” in the moment, we are promised in Hebrews 12:11 that it results in “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

This is our soul food—this peaceful fruit of righteousness that comes through discipline. God’s discipline provides the peace that our human food never will.

Questions for you:

  1. What “human food” do you tend to think will satisfy your soul?
  1. Is it hard or easy for you to accept God’s discipline? Why?
  1. What are some ways that you can learn what really satisfies your soul?
  1. How can you remember that God’s discipline is for your good?

lanie-staff-finalLanie Anderson is the assistant director at the BSU.  She is also a seminary student and writer and enjoys hanging out with husband, Will, and dog-child, Mags.