“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
The children are squabbling.
They haven’t done a single thing you asked them to do all day. You talk to them, bribe them, cajole them, nag them, and finally yell at them. They ignore your warnings and act as if your instructions are suggestions rather than commands. Then you resort to the one thing besides violence that will give you some blessed peace. You can’t hope that they will actually reflect on their behavior. But at least the noise will be muffled.
You send them to their rooms.
It may work on some level. More likely, they will simply play in their rooms until you release them, file this away as an affront to their personhood, and hold it against you for the rest of your lives. They are, after all, children. Self-reflection isn’t one of their strong points. They operate largely on the principle of risks versus benefits.
None of us are perfect parents. But even we can see how much easier life would be for all of us if our children would just listen and obey. How difficult can that be? As children of a heavenly Father, we are no less averse to correction, no more inspired by pure motives to obey than our own progeny.
Like children, we have often lived self-absorbed, distracted, lives, deaf to the Word of the One who made us. We followed our own ideas of right and wrong. We set up idols to which we sacrificed the offerings of time, money, and worship. We believed that God didn’t mean what He said. We ran from one distraction to another, dragging the Holy Spirit along with us. Prayer was more of a thing we promised to others than breathed out to heaven. We became selfish, shallow, and petulant. For years, He has been calling out to us, warning us, yearning for us to listen, reluctant to subject us to the stern discipline we needed.
Finally, God sent us to our rooms.
He removed us from many of the things we idolize: sports, jobs, money, convenience, church. He closed church buildings and programs and forced us to be the church. He sent us home to work on our relationships. He shut down the noise so we could hear His voice. The isolation made us lean on Him for the things we have taken for granted. It made us yearn for fellowship, for freedom, for relationship. It has moved us to weep for the suffering and reach out to our neighbors.
Most of us are heartily tired of the pandemic by now. Those of us who have been inconvenienced more than anything else just want the doors to open again. But if we move on without hearing the lessons God has been trying to share with us, we will have disappointed our Lord.
This weekend, thank your Father for His lessons. Thank your mom, just because she needs to hear it.
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did
not escape when they refused him who warned them on
earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him
who warns from heaven.”
– Hebrews 12:25