Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)
I was thinking about life this morning, in the shower… as I usually do. Sometimes it’s the mundane “what do I have to do today” kind of stuff, other times it’s “meaning of life” kinda stuff. I suppose it was the latter today.
We’re still in a pretty good pinch financially. We have some temporary relief for the moment thanks to some incredible (and unsolicited) generosity of our friends and family. And for some reason, even when there seems to be a lead (a new client, interest in our trailer for sale, or any other possible income) they seem to fall through. It can be pretty frustrating…
What would cross my mind in years past would be that “God disciplines those he loves.” I would begin to search inside myself to find something about me, or something I was doing or not doing, that might be displeasing to God. That usually did not take very long. So, I would tell God I am sorry for that, and ask him to help me fix it, and I would assume that my repentant heart would curry God’s favor once again. (Meaning, whatever bad thing I was calling God’s discipline would be lifted from me.)
Sometimes that would happen, other times it would not. Certainly could not detect any sort of pattern. The only pattern I could discern was my repeated attempts to work my negative circumstances in life into some form of disciplinary action from my Father with a capital F.
But over the past many years, I have been learning of his grace – unconditional grace – and his way of dealing with us. It’s not do right, get good… do wrong, get bad. At least not always. Not that predictable. The one thing that I can count on is that he loves me. A lot. So many scriptures tell me that. A lot.
Still, we persist in this idea that if something is wrong, God is punishing us. (And sometimes we think the reverse, where good stuff means we must be doing “something right”, but usually we just take the credit ourselves for that.)
Is our sudden lack of income the result of some known or unknown sin in my life? Maybe Jen’s? If I repent of my current failures (of which there are many) will the money start flowing again? I obviously can’t know the answers to those questions, but I think I can see evidence that suggests the results will not be (necessarily) directly tied to my choices or actions in the immediate future. There may be consequences to my poor decisions, mistakes, failures, or general lack of wisdom and discrepancy. But, God does not seem to operate on a “if a = b then c” system.
God almost does the opposite. When the disobedient, unruly, lazy son asked for his share of his father’s inheritance… his dad gave it to him. He knew what his son would do with it, but he still gave it to him. And, he let his son go off and actually do what he knew he was going to do. How many of us could actually knowingly fund our children’s debauchery? And – even more – allow them to really go through with it? I’m not sure I could…
But God is way more patient that we are. God also sees way more of the big picture. He is not doting over every little thing we do wrong or don’t do right. He walks with us, and encourages us toward the good, and away from the bad. If we fail, he is there to pick us up. He’s not there to immediately punish us. He wants us to succeed. (Not in a “success deity” kind of way… in the Kingdom success kinda way. A very backwards way.)
All of this may not make too much sense, but I could see God working this through in my head and heart the other day (when I started this article) and wanted to write it down, and perhaps share it with you. You may think that bad circumstances in your life are God’s direct intervention to “teach you a lesson”! I can not know what he is doing (or not doing) in and for you. But I do know that he is teaching me to trust him. Trust his love, trust his goodness, trust his provision, trust his lead. I have been learning again through a tough financial time – a tough time to trust my Father – just what matters in life. It’s not my stuff. None of it. It’s the relationships he has placed me in. My family, my friends, my neighbors. All I need to do is trust and follow God’s lead (based on what I have learned of him, and seen him do in the past), and love the people whom he has placed around me. Every day there is another chance to learn.
And isn’t that true “discipline”?