Family Way # 4
"We listen to correction and accept discipline with a submissive spirit."
Memory verse: "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."
Nathan loved the story of the Black Stallion--a stunning, wild, untamed, powerful, jet-black horse that eventually became one of the fastest horses alive, or so the story goes!
When Nathan was a little boy and I would have to discipline him, I would explain, "Nathan, a great race horse like the Black Stallion had such potential to win a blue ribbon in races against all of the horses in the world. But until this strong, wild horse learned to submit to the reins of the jockey, it was just a wild horse with potential. To be able to run the race, he had to submit himself to the direction of the master, and accept the reins. Natie, you are like that great wild stallion--so much potential to be a champion--but you have got to learn to accept the reins of our discipline so that you can run your race in life like a champion!"
So it is with us as adults. We have an incredible capacity to be strong, grow in intellectual excellence as we exercise the muscles of our minds, to be influential in ministry in our lifetimes, to leave a legacy of faith and integrity--but it requires that we also exercise our will, submit to God's discipline, and strain after His ways by following His heart.
Taking responsibility for my children's hearts and minds crafted me into a stronger, more mature adult. As I told them stories, my heart was engaging in great hero tales. What I was sowing, I was reaping in my own life.
Cuddled up on the couch, squished together in rapt attention, there were teachable moments as my children would look with wide eyes and open hearts when I would read them tales of conquerors and heroes--those who gave the strength of their lives to bettering or redeeming the world. Oh, how they loved great stories! And when their little imaginations were captured with those stories, I would seize the moment and say,
"To become a world class champion requires struggle, discipline, commitment and the will to submit to the process of developing greatness, and I believe that God has created each one of you to be a champion for His kingdom in your lifetime. I wonder how you are going to be used by God to change your world for the better?"
"Maybe one of you will be a great writer like C.S.Lewis, or a great composer like Handel when he wrote the Messiah! Or a war hero, or a missionary, or doctor--there are no limitations to what God can do through normal people who submit to His training and live by the power of His spirit inside of us!"
And so, what potential sits dormant inside of me that might bring me to serve and sacrifice in a heroic way? How might God use faithful adults who are willing to live into His discipline and exercise our wills and spiritual muscles.
Discussions of bravery, sacrifice, honor, submission to life lessons would ensue and these were the moments when the souls of my children and I were formed.
"What do you think it costs to become a great soldier?" I would ask.
"What if you were called to be a great writer--what kind of discipline would that take?"
"What if God wanted you to write great music that would encourage and comfort people all over the world? How would you become the best?"
And so on--capturing their imaginations with the principles of discipline was a part of inspiring all of us to submit to our discipline, training and instruction.
Of course, much of training is repetition, over and over and over and talking all along the way.
Yet, reaching the heart with training is as much inspiration as it is training. Both are necessary--training in truth and wisdom, practicing submitting to that training--but knowing that with the submission comes a reward.
God does not arbitrarily issue us commandments to be hard on us. His commandments, which must be obeyed, are for our best--to protect us, to bless us, to cause us happiness and to help us become the best we can be.
Understanding that bravery, heroism, greatness, --a champion made, comes from submitting to training and to discipline, is a truth that will allow all children and all adults to be teachable and trainable to greatness.
It seemed we had to learn to use this "way" often in the discipline and training of our children. "Our goal is for you to learn to obey. When you learn to obey mom and dad, you will practice becoming a trained child so that you will be able to hear God's voice and be able to obey Him."
If obedience is secured only through force, instead of securing the heart--and the imagination of the heart-- then the obedience will only take place when force is exerted.
Many wonderful adults and children have entered the world to find it a place of great temptation and allure. There are no guarantees of what choices our children will make or what their path will be.
However, I think for all of us, having a vision of why we need to submit--to understand that choosing to obey shapes our own ability to become strong inside in order to become someone morally strong and powerful to bring righteousness into the world--greatly enhanced our desire to actually do the submitting.
Just today, I was talking to one of my older children. They were talking about how so many of their friends "posed" as believers, yet their lives were a constant stream of compromises. Integrity means that there is a wholeness to ourselves. Our behavior matches our convictions about what is right. We must train, study, practice to become excellent people.
God is holy and excellent, sublime, awe-inspiring in His demeanor. He exhibits this through His love, that He is trustworthy, that He is good, that He is righteous, that He is a servant leader and so much more. We practice learning to be submissive because He modeled submissiveness to us when He was here on the earth.
Jesus, the prefect representation of God, modeled submission to us when He was about to sacrifice his life by dying on the cross. He said in Luke 22:42: "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done."
If Jesus submitted to God, we must be willing to submit to His will even when it doesn’t make sense.
What would have happened if Jesus had taken the easy way out? We would not have salvation and redemption. Sometimes being submissive comes with a cost, but in God’s economy, the cost will always be outweighed by the eternal rewards.
The goal of spiritual training in submitting to and asking our children to submit to discipline and to listen to correction, wasn't just the behavior secured, but it was to help us develop a responsive and teachable heart, so that we would choose to bow their knee to God's ways, when we were with others or when we were alone where only God could see our hearts and our behavior.
Our children developed their own internal sense of wanting to become disciplined, trained adults who could pursue ideals of excellence for their Lord, because the motivation of their hearts had been secured.The training of them spread to our own hearts.
And so we told many stories of soldiers, athletes, missionaries, other heroes and explained that discipline and submission was the pathway to strength and character and we were their best cheerleaders as we trained, corrected and encouraged them toward the vision of owning their lives to become someone who would have a great contribution to make in their world.
What is your or your child's God-given personality?
What motivates their heart? Your heart?
How are you painting a vision for the person they will become when they learn to "take the reins?" How are you cultivating a vision for the person you might become when you allow God to take the reins and lead you?