“Everett, obey or you will go to timeout.”
I probably say those words 50 times a day at least. A warning to my son that there will be consequences if he chooses not to do what I’ve asked him to. Most of the time he gives in and obeys, but it’s the times when he doesn’t that I’m reminded most of God’s incredible patience and love for us as His children. When Everett throws his head back and tantrums as I clumsily try to carry him in his uncooperative state to our timeout corner.
It’s exhausting. It would be easier for me as a mother in the short term to just give into his whim or ignore his disobedience. But I love him and his long term growth is much more important to me than my momentary comfort.
I do this same thing all the time to my Heavenly Father. I hear Him ask me to do something and ignore Him, or just straight up do something I know I shouldn’t, and then act like it’s His fault when I end up in “time out”.
We’ve all been there, stuck in a bad situation completely of our own making. Often for me, this looks like feeling down and unproductive as a result of too much TV, or overwhelmed by a to do list because I said yes to a bunch of things without asking God His will for my time. At times in my life it’s been much bigger than that, and an entire season has been defined by a decision I made without consulting the Lord.
Whatever the case, I believe that sometimes trials take the form of discipline (I’m walking through one such trial right now). Think of it this way, we are children and God is our Father. There is a lesson He knows we need to learn in order to be successful in what He has for us down the road, and it is his job as our parent to teach it to us.
Right now my toddler really needs to learn a lot of things, not to hit or throw things, etc., but ultimately he needs to learn to obey and that if he doesn’t there will be a consequence. The way I am teaching this to him is through timeout and the occasional spanking if time out just isn’t cutting it that day. Sometimes sweet Everett will have to sit in time out 4 plus times in a row before he finally capitulates to what I have asked him to do, when if he had settled down long enough to listen and make the choice to obey, he could have only sat there once and been done. I think of this often when I feel like I’m walking through something that is the natural consequence of a choice I’ve made or a command I heard from the Lord but didn’t have the faith to step out in.
The Lord has used many trials of varying degrees of difficulty to teach me things like finding my satisfaction in Him and Him alone, trusting in His sovereignty, and obeying when I feel Him calling me to do something. What I want more than anything now is to learn the lesson I need to learn the first time and move on. Yet, again and again I find myself sitting in “time out” for the 4th time, still hesitant to trust, obey, or be content.
What I’ve felt the Lord reminding me of most over the last year in the space of His loving discipline, is that His love is not dependent on my actions. Again and again He speaks over me with love and forgiveness, “my grace is sufficient for you beloved.”
I’m learning to identify the condemning voice in my head saying things like, “this is punishment, because God is angry with you.” Or, “You failed again, shocker!” The voice that mocks me each time I fail is the enemy doing everything he can to keep me feeling hopeless. The enemy’s goal is to prevent me from humbly going to my loving father with a repentant heart. Fear that what the enemy says it true, and of being rejected due to my consistent failure can keep me from drawing near to the Lord when I’ve made a bad choice.
But God’s word says:
“There is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18)
“perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18
“God is love” (1 John 4:8)
These truths from scripture remind me that I don’t have to fear my Father. That His love for me way out weighs my failures, and through Jesus actually covers them completely. I’m free from the ultimate weight of them, in Christ Jesus.
The best part of disciplining my son, is seeing His deep desire for reconciliation afterwards. I love the way He runs to my arms and speaks “sorry mommy” so sweetly. I love embracing Him and seeing his change of heart from resistant to ready to obey.
So friends, here is the take away:
Let’s stop letting the enemy keep us sitting in our shame for days, or weeks, or years on end. I HATE that the enemy wins in this space so often, even still in my own life.
Instead, let’s trust in the perfect love of our God which casts out all fear, and run to the loving arms of our Father when we’ve made a mistake. Trusting that whatever consequence may come (sometimes there is nothing but grace), it is in love from the Father, and He will give us everything we need to walk out the consequences with grace and peace in our hearts knowing we are loved, approved, cherished, redeemed, chosen, and favored by the one true King!
The best part is that the more I run to my Father’s arms and humbly receive any loving discipline necessary, the more I understand and really take to heart His love for me. I begin to trust Him more with each loving encounter and over time find that it’s easier to obey Him and I spend less time in “time out” and more time living the life He designed me to live!
What could be better than that?