Rob here. As I’m writing this the large Liquid Amber tree outside my office is being given a severe pruning. Last week a large branch simply broke off and fell into our carpark. I thank God that the carpark was empty at the time and I wasn’t in my office. That would have been a bit scary!
The tree is big but it isn’t strong. Pruning it will help give it strength; help it to withstand gales and storms. That’s the kind of strength that God wants us to have also. Listen to this in Hebrews 12:10-13; “Our parents disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
I have to admit that I struggle with the language of discipline and holiness. It just sounds so darned religious! But what blows me away in this passage is the invitation; to share in the holiness of God and to produce a ‘harvest of righteousness and peace.’ Basically, God is inviting us, through Jesus, to know him so intimately as Father that we will inherit his qualities, become like him and reflect him to the world. It all begins with intimacy. It starts with accepting our role as children of a good Father and allowing God’s Spirit to shape us, prune us, discipline us into more and more of the image of God.
My little boy is in the middle of his first day of school today. I’m a proud and slightly apprehensive dad. It took me a while as a dad to feel confident in the area of discipline. I think this was because my own dad’s style was just to yell louder. This is my default setting too when I’m not pressed into God’s Spirit. But I did grow into it and now I see the fruit of discipline in my son. He is learning to be respectful, to listen, to be confident in himself and to be kind. I’m so proud of who he is and who he is becoming! I inherited my father heart from God. As our Father he is full of outrageous love for us. He has high hopes for his children. He knows how great we can be if we submit to his loving direction. So the most loving thing he can do for us is prune us and discipline us. We will never become who we were born to be without it.