“I am the LORD who makes you holy.” Leviticus 20:8b NLT
The Hebrew word for the week is a long one, but a precious name for God.
Think about it. What thing of value comes easy?
- Gold goes through fire.
- Diamonds crystallize under fierce pressure and heat.
- Pearls begin as particle invaders in the belly of a mollusk.
- Babies follow labor.
- Jesus went to hell to be raised up.
Would you pay a high price for bad quality? Would you skimp ingredients and expect the same result as the recipe creator got? Probably not.
The process is the key.
I know this truth so well in my mind, yet so often I find myself falling along the sidelines of my own strength and my own timing. In the snapshot version of my life, I see myself faithfully chugging along something like this:
(Looks up) See, Lord, I’m being disciplined! (Looks down and talks to self- distracted.) Don’t despise the process. Don’t despise the process. Don’t despise the process.
Then suddenly with the frustration of a goldfish swimming up a waterfall, I see myself throw my hands up with gusto and shout, “I DESPISE THE PROCESS!”
Mortal souls require consistency and discipline for a reason apparently. (See above example for case in point.)
I grew up with a slightly resentful and skewed impression of the “d word.” Perhaps because the good intentions of humans didn’t always hit the mark with my flamboyant tendencies, but since God has gently shown me His discipline in adulthood, my value of the “d word” has dramatically shifted.
Discipline is generally associated with words like fear and punishment. Just look it up in the dictionary, and you will find words like control, strict, regulation, and drill.
It only takes a few peeks into the Old Testament to see the old cycle play out.
Well, eventually I figured out that fear and punishment may be great motivators to a certain performance, but they are not great long term heart mentors towards an empowered life.
That OT system was a temporary shadow of the fulfillment of Jesus. Now, I see him on a personal level and my drill-sergeant-God misconceptions are replaced with words like intimacy, redemption, transformation, baptism, and life.
I see Him holding my hands, looking deeply into my eyes, and saying things like, “I am the Vine, and you are part of Me.” I melt into His love. I lay myself at His feet that have walked through hell and back. I lean into His wisdom and find His discipline refreshing to my lazy tendencies that leave me feeling sluggish and vulnerable to disease.
Personally, one of the most tangible examples of New Covenant discipline stems from the fact that instead of simply requiring purity, Jesus has become our righteousness. Before, we had a set of loop holes to jump through in order to achieve a standard. Now, we take on His holiness when we receive Jesus, the Person. He is God, but may we never forget that He walked as a man in order to wash our feet.
My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. From Hebrews 12:5-6
All discipline now stems from intimacy.
Jesus isn’t standing on the sidelines of our fire saying, “Oh, that looks hot in there. You want a snack?” I mean seriously, He asks nothing of us that He didn’t go through Himself. He carried our sins to the grave and the pits of hell, for crying out loud. There isn’t anything He isn’t equipped for. That means there is no fire too hot when I am His.
Back to the example of the pearl. A pearl begins its life as a particle invader (such as a grain of sand) in a hostile environment. The oyster puts up its defenses and begins coating the grain with a mineral to protect itself from irritation or damage. Repetitious, reactionary coating forms a beautiful pearl.
If you feel like that little grain of sand in an oyster’s stomach, take heart. 😉 Your place of pain or frustration may be your place of transformation!
In your process, grab hold of Him and hang tight. He is not the enemy. He is the refiner’s fire, and He is the gold. It will be worth it.
© Brenda Kanagy
Note: I do not own the photos in this post.