For some reason, it seems that in those times, I have to step and discipline. We have to do it – distant and removed though we maybe. Of course, the greater than average response is something along the lines of, “Dad - I hate you!” Nothing like feeling more connected to family.
To avoid it is to hold back what our kids need and we know it. We don't want to (and a good many parents choose not to for fear of the “hate” word) but to do so is to fail correct an error, one that could ruin a child.
The truth is, I think, we do not like to deal with pain. My good friend and chiropractor, Dr. George Tomes, likes to point out, “When we step on the tail of a dog and he barks, we don't say something is wrong with his mouth.” More to the point, when it comes to the spiritual journey, we cannot imagine WHY would God let me hurt?! Why would God allow ME to feel this way?!
We're scared of going deeper and addressing what we fear about God. Our modern Christianity is second rate and hides behind a cursory understanding of the Bible and theology. We say we want more of God but we fail to account for what that might look like.
OR we fail to peal away what we think is a “spiritual question” and ask what the real question might be because if we did it would come closer to one of these: Why is God acting like a parent and not a vending machine? Why is God acting like a parent and not Santa Claus? Why is God acting like a parent and not my best friend?
The writer of Hebrews sees most clearly what takes place in our journey of faith and God's instructions when he writes,
(4) You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; (5) and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; (6) FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." (7) It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (8) But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (9) Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (11) All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (12:4-11 NASB)
When was the last time you shed blood striving against sin? Yeah, me either – can't remember. The moment we hurt, we Christians tend to run and hide behind our pretty baubles at the book store and our perfect padded pews. I fear we revel in acedia. Martin Luther condemned the Roman Catholic Church for it's selling of indulgences and today's protestants sell our souls for a comfortable hovel. We have turned spiritual boredom into a spiritual gift.
St. John of the Cross (known for “The dark night of soul”) wrote centuries ago, “Nothing in this life can offer the secure hope, the limitless love our soul needs...It is because He [God] loves you that He refuses to let you rest your soul in this corrupt, dying world.” (Living Flame of Love: Stanza 1)
I can only see what I found in the mirror. I have taken measure of myself and found myself wanting and with good reason, God's work isn't finished. I dread the journey as much as I long for the results. Staying put is more often the road less traveled on a religious road use to sidestepping suffering.
Images from sxc.hu