Saturday, October 10, 2009

Unpleasant Training

Sometimes I long to live in a cabin somewhere up in the mountains of Idaho, Wyoming or Montana. Somewhere beautiful, serene and isolated.
A place of quiet that penetrates your soul.
A place where gazing up at the immense and endless sky, puts life into healthy perspectives.
A place of simple living and restful existence.

Maybe I'm tired. Maybe it's a time in my life where all the forces of nature, age, the experiences of the daily life of urban struggle are all coming together as a crucible. Maybe it's attack and battle fatigue. Maybe character issues that are needing adjustment. Maybe some and all of the above!
I suspect, as always, that God has a plan in it all, even though I only see it in dark glasses these days.
In the end, it doesn't really matter how I got here, or for what great purpose I find myself struggling in these days. What does matter is my response to it.

I watch my new puppy happily bounce through each day, as if today, this moment, is the BEST day yet!
Each article on the floor is a new discovery, and every room is a hidden adventure waiting to be explored. Every person she greets is the most important in her focus and affection. Her excitement over their presence overflows. As cute as she is, she is also undisciplined and untrained. At only 8 weeks old she is a cute, bouncy little bundle of potential, and that potential will take some effort for it to emerge.

Training is the only way for that potential to be fulfilled. The only way for her to mature and learn obedience to our commands. She won't like some of it and will surely try our patience during the process I'm sure! It takes a lot of commitment and effort to patiently teach her. Rewarding the behaviors we want and discouraging those we don't. Dog training is not for the weak and passive. In the end however, we will have a great dog to enjoy!

In the Book of Hebrews, it says of Jesus that; " although He was a son, he learned obedience from the things which He suffered." The definition of suffer is: to undergo or be subjected to pain. To permit, subject or endure oneself to. It is a verb, which means that it is an ongoing action.

It's an amazing thing to think of Jesus, the perfect son of God, pleasing to Him in all his ways, needing to suffer to learn obedience. Just think on that a minute.

Was it in part, the Son learning to identify with all that is human? To forge the path ahead for our training in suffering and obedience? Was it only about the Cross and the cost of that act on our behalf? Somehow, I think it also had to do with ministry that used up his strength, patience and fortitude as he walked in his own humanness and with the realities of relating to the humans around him. Jesus did get tired! He "endured" much of his time on earth. Read about the many times he "went away by himself", or "sent the disciples across" without him. When he proclaimed; "how long do I need to be with you?", it sounded like someone a bit "people weary". He was familiar with rejection, alienation, persecution and all those types of suffering.
Regardless of the reasons why and when Jesus suffered that we can theologize forever over, the bottom line is that he did learn obedience through suffering.

Hebrews continues on to tell us that; " for those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives" and; " it is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons."

"Discipline is not pleasant at the time", but the Word again says, " yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness".

So, my response? (Well, if you want to send me an airline ticket and a cozy mountain cabin to hold up in for a few weeks, I'd love it! Just kind of kidding!)

At the deepest core of my heart, above all else, I want please the Father and Son. I want my life to honor their love and eternal commitment to me. Whatever it takes. What other choice is there for someone who has freely chosen to submit joyfully to the One who is everything good and right?

Although I'd love the cabin in the mountains, and the peace of those surroundings, I will subject myself to God. Begging for more Grace and strength to do what He says I need to do when I find myself in this training session. I will do what the Word says, which is to "strengthen feeble knees" (keep standing), and "hands" (stay involved) and "make level paths for my feet" (stay in Him, His Truth and Word).

In some ways, it may be easier to train my puppy than the Lord training me, but I will submit myself to the Ultimate Trainer and reach my full potential!

May you also.

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