The Good, The Bad and The Bittersweet

I've heard it said recently, in jest of course, that spending time with a two-year old can sometimes be like drinking a Diet Coke.  At first, it's so sweet, but then there's a slightly bitter aftertaste.  The sweet part of "drinking in" time with our children can take on many forms.  For example:
  • Hugs
  • Kisses
  • Giggles
  • Tickles
  • Snuggles
  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Reading
  • Rocking
  • Etc.
The bitter aftertaste looks something like this:
WAAAAAHHHH!!!  WAAAAAHHHH!  [WHIIIIIIIIIIIINE] "WAAAAAHHH!!! WAAAAAHHHH! 
 [WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE]

or this:
"I want juice."  "I want juice."  "I want juice."  "I want juice."  "I want juice."  "I want juice."  "I want juice."

or finally, this:
  • hitting a sibling on the head with a toy
  • swiping a sibling's toy
  • throwing things in rebellion
  • pitching fits when desires are not met
  • Refusing to obey direction
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Dare I say that sometimes our relationship with God can be a bit like that Diet Coke.  We spend sweet, sweet time with Him in prayer, in worship, in silent meditation on His word or in thanksgiving and yet somehow we find ourselves a bit off track at times. Whining (despite His providence), crying (despite His grace), throwing temper tantrums and simply outright rebelling whether in our hearts or outwardly.  

This brings me to the "D" word.  Nope, not that one!  This one...


DISCIPLINE

Yes, yes, yes.  As a child, this word held very negative connotations.  Basically, it meant "punishment."  However, as a parent, it holds an altogether different meaning.  It is, essentially, another word for LOVE.  It is not punishment, but rather training, shepherding and guiding.  In Hebrews 12, we find a pretty large passage about discipline and how we are to rightly view it.  For the purpose of brevity, I want to focus on just a few verses.  Verses 5 and 6 remind us about the "love connection," if you will:

"And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,



'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.'”


The apostle Paul is quoting Proverbs 3:11-12, which states it just a bit differently:



"My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, 
and do not resent his rebuke, 
because the LORD disciplines those he loves, 
as a father the son he delights in."


Oh, fellow parent, discipline is not fun, and it's not easy, but if we delight in our children the way the Lord delights in us and if we love them with His love, we must be prepared to instruct, shepherd and guide them when the sweet wears off and to rebuke them when the bitterness emerges.  For if we do, and we are faithful to raise them in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), then the blessings on their lives will follow:

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. 
Later on, however, it produces
a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

Now, that is SWEET! 


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