“Spank me! Spank me! I need you to spank me!”
I was 6-years-old, and I had done something mean-spirited and selfish. The details escape my memory, but the intensity of my guilt and shame do not. I was a good girl, but under my generally compliant disposition lurked a selfishness I continue to fight to this day.
On that fateful day, my father called me on it, but because I was usually obedient, he was reluctant to punish me. Most kids would have been delighted by this, as my husband points out every time I tell this story, but not me. My sensitive soul knew I had sinned, and without loving discipline and punishment, there would be no absolution. No freedom from guilt. No peace.
“Spank me! Spank me! I need you to spank me,” I cried to my father, pointing to the switch usually reserved for my less-obedient sister.
My father knew little of the biblical principles of repentance and forgiveness, so what could have been a valuable teaching moment left him bewildered. He reluctantly took the switch and gave me a few gentle swats on my backside, then hugged me tightly as I sobbed in relief.
“. . . your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” says Psalm 23:4.
Now that I’m a believer, I understand what David the shepherd-boy meant when he penned this beloved psalm.
Sometimes I sin against others, and ultimately, against my spiritual Father. And although Christ absolved me of my sin on the cross, he continues to correct my behavior and conform me to his image. Sometimes he uses his Shepherd’s crook to guide me gently back from the edge of destruction. Other times he uses a stronger form of correction--his Shepherd’s rod.
Both instruments and methods are effective tools in a loving Father’s hand, but the rod definitely hurts more. Natural consequences of our sinful decisions can affect us for years (speeding tickets, financial loss, or health problems). Spiritual consequences can do the same (lost trust, opportunities, or our testimonies).
However God manifests his discipline, his actions are evidence of our relationship with him. Like any good father, he cannot and will not allow his children to continue to sin without correcting us. He loves us too much.
This should give us great comfort.
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Heb. 12:5-6).
Long ago, my 6-year-old soul knew this—that if my father loved me, he wouldn’t allow me to continue to sin. My 50-year-old soul gains great comfort from this as well.
What about you?
Are you experiencing the Lord’s discipline because of sinful actions? I encourage you to do whatever it takes to make things right with others and with God, then rejoice, because God loves you enough to correct you.
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