"Discipline" seems like such a strong, unrelenting, and ungracious word. Sometimes it feels like a massive fence that acts as a border and keeps the fun out, while making everyone within its walls a tad bit miserable. It is a word I have often categorized with certain four-letter words that shouldn't be used unless you're a construction worker or sailor who doesn't love Jesus.
Have you ever had those kinds of thoughts about the dirty D word?
I'm being a facetious, mostly, because if I really think those things it means that I don't really understand the heart of discipline. Discipline isn't a cruel task master that ruins life, but as Solomon reminds us in the book of Proverbs, over and over again, discipline is one of the keys to living a godly life!
Back in 2015 when we entered our own personal wilderness after losing a ministry position here in Michigan, our family entered a period of survival as we believed the Lord was asking us to stay put in the state, while trusting Him to lead us to whatever would be next. It was tough on everyone, at every level: emotionally, physically and spiritually.
As the Lord finally brought us out of that season of wandering and landed us back in a place we could call home, life started to get back to normal. We moved into an apartment here in Kalkaska on August 27th, the kids started school 9 days later, and soon after I was working part-time at New Hope. We had survived a season of homelessness and travel, and now God was helping us heal while slowly revealing His plan for what was next for our lives.
When October hit, I experienced a bout of depression. I think part of it came from being in survival mode for so long, that when life returned to "normal" I almost didn't know what to do. The adrenaline of living life on the edge had kept me going for so long, but now that everyone was getting settled back into a routine, I was lost.
During this time, I met with a Christian counselor who, with two key reminders, helped me climb out of the pit into which I had landed. The first had to do with accepting and processing my pain, and acknowledging the loss we had all experienced (content for another prayer update!); and the second had to do with discipline.
Soon after I found my rhythm again, I dove back into daily routines and programs, and while the hurt and sadness didn't disappear overnight (or "overyear" even!) the joy of life slowly returned. Recently I was talking to someone in a similar situation and I did with them what this counselor had done for me: reminded them that regardless of life's curveballs, a healthy dose of personal/spiritual discipline goes a long way in keeping us moving forward regardless.
As another season comes to an end, it could be a good time to restore some discipline as you prepare for moving back into whatever is next. Maybe you have lost your regular connection with God and His Word, or maybe your prayer life has taken a detour. Does your personal health need a little reset, or do you need to make the discipline of rest a part of your schedule?
Discipline is the pathway to life. As we learn to live in obedience to God and His Word, and then honor Him with how we direct the hours and days of our lives, we will find it is the fullest life we could ever have.