The Bible is full of runaways â running from God's call, running from God's purpose for their lives or running from God's discipline. There was Jacob running with the birthright he stole; Jonah in the belly of the whale, running from God's call to preach; Jeremiah trying to outrun the fire shut up within his bones and the Prodigal Son running from discipline. And then there was eight year old me, who almost made it in.
It was early one Saturday morning. I had done something I shouldn't have done the night before and had been spanked. I was an upset little thing, I was ready to leave and in my young, foolish mind I believed I could do better on my own. My parents slept late on Saturday mornings so I knew I could 'escape' with them being none the wiser.
In my brilliant eight-year-old-mind all I needed was some food (forget clothing and figuring out where I was going to live, right?!). I thought I could handle being on my own. I was indignant and tired of my parents' rules. So I took my lunch kit, climbed up on the countertops and packed all the biscuits and chips that we had, and left. With assurance and great resolve - more like defiance and genuine stupidity- I walked down the street with my lunch kit and the clothes on my back, towards the exit of my community.
Now the gated community I lived in was a new development. The nearest source of civilization was a fifteen-minute car ride, and I was on foot. As I neared the gate and saw the wide expanse of nothingness beyond, my resolve waned. I stood there transfixed by the realization that my plan wasn't well thought out, but my pride didn't want me to return home. My fear of the unknown eventually got the better of me, so I quickly calculated how much time it would take to get back to my house before my parents woke up. I nervously opened the door, realized no one was up, turned on the television and sat comfortable in my safe home.
In the book of Hebrews in the 12<sup>th chapter Paul encourages us to not despise the Lord's discipline when we receive it:
"My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him." For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. [Hebrews 12:5-6 AMP]
I didn't want to be corrected. I didn't want to acknowledge that I deserved the punishment meted out to me and that the purpose of the discipline was to change my behavior. My pride made me think I was above reproach, and deceit made me think my parents had ill will towards me. In that moment I lost sight of my safe home and my parents' love and could only see my hurt.
So often when God disciplines us we respond just like my eight-year-old self. If only we would respond as David did when God meted out discipline for the sin he had committed. David never got bitter. Instead he allowed the process of discipline to take its course, submitting to it like a true son. Only a true son can pen such words: Oh what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Psalm 32 verse 1.
It was Kay Arthur in a study of the life of David who said, "[love] the discipline of your Father, precious one. They are evidence of His love, the certainty that He has a plan, a purpose for you that is not yet complete." Such words ring true in my heart as I think of God's hand of discipline over my life, as he shapes me into a woman of God.
As this New Year takes its course, and as God puts people and situations in our lives to correct our behaviors and attitudes, take my eight-year-old advice: don't run away, don't get puffed up, don't get resentful. Submit your lives to God's discipline. It's much safer on the insideJ
Stacy-Ann Smith - is a child therapist. She is involved with youth and children's ministry and has a heart to work with young women teaching them the ways of the Lord. She serves as a board member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Foster Parent's Association. You can read her blogs at aleatoires85.wordpress.com
Stacy-Ann Smith's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/stacy-ann-smith.html