Friday, February 21, 2014

The Rod and the Staff

"My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."

Hebrews 12:5,6

I am so thankful for all God has done for me...
for the healing power He has applied to my body...
for the peace He has placed within my soul.
And though I am still battling afflictions,
I am so grateful to be healed of the pneumonia.
I want to give Him all the praise, for He deserves it!

Yesterday, as I was eating out with Kevin and Zach, I had to reach into my purse for something.
As I looked down, 
my eyes fell upon the inhaler that had become my companion during the siege of pneumonia.
For such a long period, I had to know where that thing was at all times.
I would keep it close to my recliner, within reach,
so I could snatch it up and use it when I needed to.
If I went out, the inhaler was in my purse.
 As I sat there yesterday, the dear Lord stopped me in my tracks,
and His gentle voice reminded me that I have not had to use that inhaler for many days now.
I mentioned it to Kevin and Zach, and we all rejoiced.

God has brought me so far from where I was just a few weeks ago!
Truly, you would have had to hear me breathe to understand the effort it required.
God is a mighty God, Who is worthy of all of my praise....
all of my adoration....
all of my love....
all of my worship....
all of me.

He has taught me SO much through this trial.
Lessons precious and dear to my heart!
My perspective has changed.
I have prayed for it...begged Him to renew my mind in certain areas,
because I did not know how to change myself.
I do not have the power to renew my mind or rearrange my own way of thinking.
Only He, as my Creator, can do that.

Many times, the process He chooses to correct us involves suffering.
The classroom He places us in is not always one that is pleasant.
The lesson, not our comfort, is what matters.

If I could have chosen, I would never have walked into this trial, in the first place.
If I had to go through it, I would surely have preferred that it didn't last so long.
And if I had my way, I would be healed completely....right now...without further delay.

God chastens His children, because it is necessary.
If we are ever to make Heaven our home, we must be made holy...
and pure....and dross-free, like Him.
Not that I am insinuating that all sickness comes as a form of chastisement or correction.
I just find, on a personal level, that there are always lessons in it for me.

God loves us with an everlasting love.
He loves us enough to do what is needful to correct our errant behavior.
How precious that He always sends His staff, along with His rod!
The rod for correction, the staff for direction.

He never chastens us without explaining the reason for the chastisement...
if we will be still long enough and listen.
If we will keep an open mind and heart,
He will faithfully reveal the purpose behind our correction.

If He didn't, it would be like us disciplining one of our children,
yet, never telling them what they did wrong.
What good would that do?
They would never learn, and we would be failing them miserably.

After all, the whole point of correction is to re-direct and get us back on the right track.

Today, I just want to praise Him for the chastening.
I praise Him for the affliction.
Yes, I even praise Him for what I am still going through.
Because I can see it is working a good work in me.
It is in the process of yielding something valuable.
I know there are still lessons He longs to teach.
So, I remain here, yielded and still...expectant and heart-wide-open.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: 
nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness 
unto them which are exercised thereby."
Hebrews 12:11

We must be willing to allow ourselves to be exercised by our chastenings.
We must lean into the lessons and accept God's choices and methods of teaching.
Otherwise, the desired outcome of fruit will never materialize.

I praise Him for the peaceable fruit of righteousness that I can already see
budding and blooming and springing forth....
resulting from what I first perceived as so grievous.

God is worthy.
He answers prayer.
He is faithful.
He never leaves His throne, and He never loses control.
He loves us enough to correct and discipline us,
just as a father chastens his children from a heart of love.
Fathers know that without correction,
children will never realize or recognize inward tendencies that hold the potential
of becoming problematic and causing them to stray.

Whenever Dad used to correct me, as a child,
he would tell me the story about a twig.
He said if you didn't straighten it while it was still little, pliable, and flexible,
it would grow to be a crooked tree.
He said you couldn't change it or correct it later on.

That lesson always stuck with me.

Recently, Zachary and I were returning home from a field trip,
when I had to stop the car, turn around, go back, and take a closer look and pictures of this tree.
It stretched out and cast its shadow upon the road which we traveled.

Obviously, it was never straightened when it was a twig.
It has grown and flourished and now it is several feet tall.
And it is crooked.

To try to straighten this tree now, would be impossible.
It is what it is.
It is what it will always be.
There will be no changing of the direction of this tree.

What if God allowed us to always have our own way?
What if He saw a "bent" in us that is unhealthy,
yet, He chose to ignore it?
What if He permitted us to go all the way through life, without correcting or straightening us,
then as we came to the Judgment bar, He told us about our problem area
for the very first time?
At that point, we could do nothing to adjust our wrongful tendencies.
It would then be too late.
And God would not be a just and fair God.

Life on earth is like a dressing room...a rehearsal....for the world to come.
This is where we must make corrections.
This is where repentance must take place, in order for us to spend eternity with Him.

Wouldn't it be best to undergo seasons of chastening while here?
While we still have time and mercy to make modifications?

God doesn't enjoy seeing us suffer.
I never fully understood that until I became a mother.
Disciplining Zachary is a very heart-rending experience for me.

Thankfully, he is a very tender-hearted child, who is very easily entreated.
Knowing he has disappointed Kevin and/or me, is usually discipline enough for him.
More often than not, he punishes himself...through remorse and regret.
Seldom has he ever needed more than being talked to and made to see that his actions
have pierced our hearts and caused us distress.

Papaw had nine children, and he used to tell Mom that every child was different.
They were all of a different temperament, so he had to discipline them accordingly.
Some children only needed a stern look to straighten their behavior.
Others needed only to see a tear in Mimmie's eye to make them want to turn around.
Others needed...well, stronger measures of discipline.

I suppose we are like that, as God's children.
Some of us are more stubborn and bull-headed than others.
Some are tender and can be corrected with the slightest prick of conscience.

God knows each of us, individually.
We are all His children, and He is our loving Father.
He handles us according to our unique needs and personalities.
Using a "one-size-fits-all" approach would be completely unwise.
The desired effect could not be achieved by using unnecessary force on those who are more sensitive
and too soft a hand on those who are harder to reach.
So, God customizes our chastenings to best fit our needs.
We should never despise Him for it.

"Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth:
therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty..."
Job 5:17

"My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction..."
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."
Proverbs 3:11,12

Again, please don't misunderstand me....
I am not saying that every time something adverse comes our way,
we are being chastened or punished.

But, through my own life experiences along this Christian path,
I have found that, more often than I care to admit,
God has had to use His chastening rod to get my attention.
Many of these times, the rod has led me to the crucible of pain,
for it is there that I seem to become most still...most pliable....most humble before Him.

I have heard His tender voice often through these trials.
It has become more and more precious to me.
How I praise Him for loving me enough to help me on my Christian journey...
even if that help sometimes comes in the form of discipline.

After all, what is the root word?
Are we not His disciples?
Do we not require discipline?
To become more and more in line with Who He is?

Every season of chastening molds us more into His image.
Every session in the Refiner's fire removes more of our dross.
Every walk through the heated furnace burns off more of our ropes and releases us from more bondage...
setting us more fully free.
Every time we walk forth from a severe trial of testing,
we are better equipped to perform the tasks He requires.

No suffering in the Christian life is without purpose.
God never wastes a moment.
There is always a reason for His actions.

Experiencing the blows dealt from God's chastening rod 
reveals one of the most undeniably evident proofs
that we are indeed His child.

"If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children,
it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all."
Hebrews 12:8

How goes it with you, my dear friend?
Do your trials seem unending?
Does it seem your night of weeping is perpetual?
Do you feel God-forsaken?
Are you undergoing rare forms of testing?
Do you find yourself delivered from one trial, only to walk directly into a new one?
Are you suffering?
Facing uncertain days ahead?
Have things become nearly unbearable?
Are you now bent low beneath the consistent blows from God's chastening rod?
Is satan whispering that surely you do not belong to God,
otherwise you would not be so severely tormented?
Does he cause you to doubt your position in Christ?

Allow me to gently bring to your attention that your extreme season of discipline brings with it
undeniable evidence that you are indeed His child.
"For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."
Hebrews 12:6
This will bring comfort to you...right in the midst of your grief.
Let me remind you that along with His chastening rod, He always sends His directing staff.
I want to encourage you to seek His face...often and earnestly.
Allow yourself to relax in His everlasting arms.
Ask Him what it is that He wants you to know.
Inquire of Him as to the nature of the lessons He is trying to teach.
"In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider..."
Ecclesiastes 7:14
As you consider, be still.
Give Him your full, undivided attention.
The sooner we surrender and stop squirming,
the sooner we will learn what we need to know.
Perhaps we can even shorten the trial?

One day this season of testing will pass.
"Afterwards" will come.
And with it will come a stronger, more capable, closer-to-God you.
You will then enjoy the peaceable fruits of righteousness that were God's sole purpose for today's trial.
Until then, turn your face Heavenward,
and if you can think of nothing else for which to praise Him,
thank Him from the heart for the reminder 
that you are indeed His child.


  1. I'm just stopping by to say 'Hello and God bless you! How blessed to remember that we are His children. I feel His presence more in the trials and so am thankful more and more for them. His yoke is easy and His burden is indeed light compared to the alternative. come quickly Lord Jesus!
    Love you Cheryl :)

    1. I am SO blessed that you stopped by today! Yes, the presence of the dear Lord makes the trials worthwhile, don't they? He is a precious Lord and Savior, and I would rather serve Him than to try to walk through life without Him. He is precious to my soul! You are such a dear blessing and encouragement to me, dear Jacqueline! God bless you. I surely love you, too!! :)