Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Corrected Courses

17 The road to life is a disciplined life;
   ignore correction and you're lost for good. 
(Proverbs 10:17 The Message)

Not too many of us embrace discipline very willingly.  As a matter of fact, we probably chafe a little under it!  We often think that someone is being too harsh in their "judgment" of us and we want to rationalize why it is that we are the way we are.  The proverb is pretty plain about this, though.  If we want to really live well, it is done by having a disciplined life.  If we ignore correction, we face the inevitability of a whole lot of wrong turns!

Since the advent of GPS devices for our smart-phones and cars, most of us have given up the old way of "navigating" to an unfamiliar destination.  My parents traveled in a recreational vehicle for about six years after their retirement.  Mom's "duty" was as "navigator".  She had a huge box of maps - one for each state, and even some for Canada.  To be truthful, I think they are still in my garage.  The thing about printed maps is that they are only as good as the paper they are printed on.  They don't "update" with new road development, construction detours, and the like.  Since they don't "update", they become obsolete quite quickly.

There are times that I think we want to rely upon God's Word to help us with the decisions we need to make in life.  The times when we are struggling with an addictive habit, we turn to the Word to find the help we need to break free of that habit.  Perhaps we are trying to make a decision about our future, seeking knowledge about God's will for our lives.  We turn to the Word for something that looks like the "road" we are traveling on today.  Then there are times that we simply want to "update" God's Word to "fit" the direction we are headed in life - making it "fit" where we are at rather than us learning to be "fit" by the Word.

The truth is that the Word of God is only one "tool" that God uses to keep us on course with him.  A disciplined life incorporates all the tools God provides - the Word, the good teaching of solid believers, wise counsel, and the directing of the Holy Spirit.  When ALL these tools are put to use in our lives, there are times of "correction" that occur.  It is like the GPS "re-directing" us onto the path that we need to be following.  If we ignore being "re-directed" long enough, we find ourselves in a real muddle.

No matter where we are in our walk with Christ, we all need some correction once in a while.  Sometimes our impulsiveness has us ACTING before we really take any time to THINK about what it is we are doing.  If we'd slow down long enough, listening to the direction we are receiving, we might just avoid some of the actions that cause us so much grief.  

Here is a little hint of what a disciplined life is like:

Dedicated to God's purposes
Intent on serving him
Simple, not over-complicated by the muddle of life
Connected with others of like faith
Indwelt by the Holy Spirit
Praise filled
Limitless in possibilities
Instructed in grace
Noticed by God
Encouragement to others in this walk with us
Determined toward obedience in every area of our life

Ignoring correction impacts each aspect.  When we ignore God's nudging to see his hand in our circumstance, we are determining to live by our own purposes.  When we seek our own way, we are no longer intent on serving only God - we allow self to become god in our lives.  Complicating our lives with too much activity, too much of anything, really only serves to keep us out of connections that we desperately need in order to be whole in Christ.  Ignoring the prompting voice of the Holy Spirit impacts our ability to praise - sin leads to guilt and we feel like we cannot move.  Openness to grace removes the guilt, but if we never learn the lessons of grace, we will not value what we have received.  God notices a heart that is turned to him, one that encourages others in their own walk of grace.  When he sees the determination of our hearts, he rewards the steps of obedience we take.

Just some thoughts of living a disciplined life this morning.  Our tendency to avoid discipline at all cost is only natural to us.  Once we embrace it as a way of life, the rewards are limitless.