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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tender Discipline

     “What happens when you don’t obey Daddy?” My nephew was calmly asking his two-year-old daughter, who was being more than a bit rambunctious during her first Christmas holiday visit to Great-Grandma Marge’s new apartment.
     “Time-out,” Laney replied. Her head was tilted at the angle which matched the set of her determined countenance. Of course, her four-year-old sister just sat next to Grandma on the sofa like a little princess but what was the fun in that when there was just so much to explore?
     “And, do you want another time-out today?” He was gentle in his question; but, definitely, holding the upper hand here. It was a face-off of such tender proportions. Suddenly the little girl dropped her “frozen in place” pose. Laney let her arms go slack at her sides and settled herself on the carpet just in front of Daddy.
     “No, I don’t like time-out.” Such a quiet reply and, oh so hard for the adults not to chuckle out-loud to see the little one’s response.
     On the other hand, most of us have been as traumatized as the little victim when we have witnessed harsh discipline meted out to a toddler who was pretty much just acting her age in a public setting. What a difference to all concerned when a parent is able to administer tender discipline.
     Because we cannot physically touch God, we sometimes don’t recognize the consequences of our actions as His correction. One can be fairly sure that my nephew will not offer a ten-minute time-out to his daughter when she is disobeying him at the age of fourteen. This was a very age-appropriate punishment he offered the two-year-old. The same can be said of how our Father God deals with us. He considers our maturity level and assesses just what we can understand. God’s punishment is always just because God is always just.
     Taking a second look at three Sojourner stories will help us recognize God’s tender discipline in her early childhood years. In the anecdote entitled How Old Is Old Enough?, 7-year-old Sojourner was putting herself above God, making a threat to break fellowship with Him if he did not acquiesce to her demand for a blue bike within twenty-four hours. God did not rain lightning down upon the child and bellow, “Oh yeah, Kid, well take that! Who do you think you are talking to anyway?”   
     Instead, God just looked on from a distance and did not make His Presence known. Following her recognition just what the absence of fellowship with God would mean in her life and repentance, it was clear that God came close enough that Sojourner sensed His Presence once again. No one had to tell her this threat had not been a good idea!

****Tender Discipline, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow

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