The Blessings of Discipline
When God disciplines us it can often feel bad, but resisting and getting a wrong view of it will only worsen the situation. Discipline is really God’s rescue operation and an act of His love towards His children when they are in trouble, i.e. sin. When I eventually took hold of God’s correction and accepted it as right and necessary, things started to change for the better and have kept on getting better ever since! I know in my own life what Jesus means in John 10:10:"I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
A recent movie I watched had the line "The choices we make dictate the lives we lead. "This has certainly been my experience. We read a similar teaching from Norman Grubb’s books when he discusses our choices taking us over ("What you take takes you"). Ultimately, we choose to be taken over by Christ or Satan and have one or the other operating our lives. The Bible makes this inescapable choice, and the ultimate con-sequences that follow, very clear in Romans 6:23:"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This is my testimony of how God rescued me from a life of sin that was heading nowhere, other than serious trouble, both in a worldly and in a biblical sense.
I was an undisciplined and rebellious teenager. As a young adolescent I did exactly as I pleased. During my teenage years, I would constantly and flagrantly disobey God, my parents, and anyone else who stood in the way of what I wanted to do. Amongst other things, I loved going to nightclubs, drinking, and having the "normal" social life of a teenager. Despite my being a Christian at that time, my beliefs were based on a convenient Christianity. I wanted all the thrills, like eternal life, but none of the cost, like obedience and discipline. At this point in my life, Jesus Christ was more of a way to get to heaven than my personal savior. I was more interested in living the so-called "high life."
Looking back, I lacked self-discipline to make godly choices and follow in His ways. I did not think about consequences until it was too late and also didn’t bother to think how consequences might affect me in the longer-term, let alone think about how my choices affected others. Lacking parental discipline as a child contributed to my indifference to towing the line and being obedient. But the choices were still 100% my responsibility, and I knew what God had to say about the many sinful things I did back then.
Hebrews 12:6 says "The Lord disciplines those he loves."This truth certainly played out in my life. Whilst I regret my defiance of His discipline and my lack of self-discipline over the years, when I finally became willing to accept the truth that I am only a vessel for Christ to live through, I adopted His view of godly discipline. I began to see it as necessary and an indication of God’s love for me.
There were numerous events leading up to the point when I actually wanted to be different. One event which brought things to a head was when I held a party at my house when my parents were out of town and it backfired on me. When I say backfired, I mean that my parents found out, and what they discovered was that the "party" was basically a drunken all-night affair, not some tame gathering of friends.
My parents invited a friend home from the conference for a short visit. Soon after they arrived, several of our neighbors came to the house and complained about the noise from the party. When confronted, I told a string of lies to try and get out of trouble. However, this time, I was not going to get away so easily. My parents began talking about consequences. At the very mention of discipline, I threw a tantrum saying I would leave home, which was a completely ridiculous idea. I had virtually no money and no idea what it would take and what it would mean for me to just up and leave.
My parents’ friend began to paint a picture of what life on my own would entail. I was asked what my plans would be to provide for myself: how did I expect to pay for food, where would I cook it, and on what? Where would I do laundry, and how would I pay for washing powder, toothpaste, pots and pans, sheets (not to mention a bed), shoes, socks, shampoo, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? What kind of job could I find as an untrained teenager that would afford me enough money for a car and an apartment? While I hated this inquisition, I knew I did not have answers to these questions! It was also pointed out to me how throwing the party was a hideous act of disrespect towards my parents and demonstrated that I did not appreciate in the slightest the extent to which they had provided for me.
The consequences for that particular act were certainly some of the most severe, costly and embarrassing consequences I had ever experienced up until that time. For a start I was grounded, but I also faced the embarrassment of my mother and father contacting the parents of my friends who came to the party to let them know exactly what had gone on. It amazed me how my parents managed to discover exactly what went on at the party and find out who to talk to. From this I learned that God eventually exposes sin and that ultimately there is no escaping from it or covering it up.
Another incident was when I crashed and totally wrecked my parents’ car just five days after I had obtained my drivers permit. I had the car crammed full with some of my so-called friends, all of whom attended the big party. I was going way too fast around a corner and drove straight over a bus-stop pole. This had costly consequences for me, including being grounded and having to sell my prize possession-an expensive sound system which had consumed many hours of my life and was a part of the whole night-clubbing and drinking scene I was involved in. I also realized how gracious God had been to me during this situation,as my four friends and I walked away from the crash completely unharmed. Once more, this demonstrated to me that God does not leave sin and carelessness unpunished. By now I was starting to want to live my life according to God’s rules rather than mine.
These experiences were the "beginning of the end" for my life of disobedience, which came to a "final-head" in 1994, as a result of two other major decisions which I faced. The first was submitting to parental discipline to find myself a job, which ended up being with a bank in England. Prior to this, I was basically doing nothing with my life, having ditched college and dedicating my abundance of free time to working out in the gym, watching TV, and hanging out with a couple of other friends who were bums just like me.
The second required self-discipline on my part and involved ending a sinful and inappropriate nine month relationship with a girlfriend. I had started going out with this girl when I joined the bank and was totally infatuated with her. I thought that she was "the one," and we saw each other almost every day. However, after a time, I began to feel myself being attracted to new acquaintances, especially with a body full of alcohol if I was at a night-club. At this time my friend Sanda recommended that I read Mere Christianity. The chapters on Sexual Morality and Christian Marriage made it very clear in my mind that my relation-ship with Donna was sinful, inappropriate and destined to fail.
This situation reached its conclusion following an invitation from Donna to go abroad with her and her family in the summer,which would mean missing summer camp in Boone, North Carolina. My immediate reaction was to forget about camp and go with her, but I knew it wasn’t as simple as that. It was "make your mind up time," and choosing between camp and my girlfriend was not just a material choice (the core issue was a spiritual matter. It was choice to go God’s way, i.e. allowing Christ to take over my life, or carry on doing it "my" way (according to Satan’s lies). I decided to go God’s way.
After I made right choices in these two areas, God continued to confront me on other sinful areas in my life while I worked at the bank. One area that needed exposure was my superior attitude. I would bitch, complain and whine about my job, circumstances, and bosses, thinking myself superior and more able to do the job than they. It was brought to my attention that this was sin and was rebelling against God, being spiteful of His perfect circumstances for me. It also seriously damaged my testimony to others and was reflected in bad work appraisals and feedback at that time from my boss. Another area was giving up drinking, which often felt difficult, but was made possible through Jesus Christ who was living out His life through me.
My faith and willingness to turn away from sin was, and continues to be, rewarded with many blessings including promotion, being able to go back to college and having the bank pay my tuition fees, in addition to countless other blessings along the way. More recently, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the fellowship in Boone, North Carolina for at least the next four months. Hopefully, it will be longer! I also have the privilege of working for Dr. Tommy Prewitt on a tremendous internet business opportunity where I have also been able to enjoy working closely with another Christian guy of my age.
Just recently I was astonished when it came to my attention that the bank building I had worked in for five years, where my life had so drastically changed, was named after a Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal, who in his time was renowned for being a solid defender of the Christian faith. What may seem a small detail to many is to me a uniquely personal and overwhelming picture of how my life circumstances are really God’s circumstances for me and that He loves me and has a perfect plan for my life that is full of abundance. I have seen how God graciously and intricately engineered my life circumstances, changing my sinful ways and wants to upright and Godly desires for which He has since afforded me the numerous blessings and an abundant life in Him.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 16 No 1
- Zerubbabel Focus: Teleconferencing Overseas
- How Acquire Faith?
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Our Second Despair
- Faith Lessons
- Area Fellowship News
- The Process of Faith
- The Blessings of Discipline
- Tape Talk
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- The Delusion of Self-sufficiency
- Many Problems, One Solution–The British Fall Conference
- Wisconsin Fellowship Weekend: Three Perspectives
- Here Am I!
- Bible Study: Faith
- Questions & Answers
- Intercession In Action
- It Remains Tough
- On Faith and Discipline…
- Words to Live By…