Have you ever grown impatient waiting on God? Abraham did. He gave up on having the child of promise and had a child by Hagar. And his impatience caused multi-generational problems. God brings us to the brink before pouring out his provision to train us to trust him. This is called discipline. So discipline is not God punishing us when we do something wrong, but training us to trust him no matter what.
This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.Deuteronomy 8:1-10 NRSVCE
Discipline is provision.
If we fail to trust and fail to wait, we find ourselves outside of the flow of God in our lives. We miss what God has for us. We find ourselves frustrated and confused. God is always faithful, but we can remove ourselves from his blessing. We can repeat the story of Adam and Eve. We can refuse to live according to God’s plan. Or we can choose to follow God, to wait for him, to trust him, and to enjoy his presence and his provision.
The other day as I arrived at work, I was stressed from the traffic and the weather. Aware of my inner turmoil, as I turned off my car; I paused, took a deep breath, and brought my focus on God. Inwardly, I recited my life-verse, “Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1) Suddenly, I was keenly aware of Christ’s presence in the mundane reality of my daily commute.
Jesus promised to always be with us, and he is. We become too busy and distracted to notice, but he is there. It is simply a matter of focus. If we focus on the ‘busy-ness’, make that craziness, all around us, we can become anxious and confused. But if we focus on the eternal reality that lies beyond the immediate, like the bedrock that invisibly supports us beneath our feet, we find peace and confidence in his presence.
Have you ever awakened in a dark room and, for whatever reason, began to move about without turning on the light? You are likely to stub some toes. It hurts. Choosing to walk around in darkness is risky business. Why do so many people choose to live in a spiritual darkness instead of light? Perhaps it is easier to simply reject God than deal with the moral and spiritual implications that come with believing in God.
I have heard people say they don’t believe in God, they believe in science. I will grant you that science may have disproven the concept of God many held when they were seven years old, but far from disprove God, science has again and again proven the necessity of God. Even atheist Manjit Kumar, in his book Quantum, stated that without God there can be no objective universe. So the problem is not the existence of God as much as the concept of God. Peter Kreeft recently commented that when he debates atheists, he often finds that he agrees with them. Their concept of god is so askew that the god they do not believe in does not exist.
In this day and age of so many religious voices vying for your assent, it takes study and prayer to come to a true understanding of God. But when you do, it is like turning on the light in a dark room. Everything becomes clear.
If you want to discover the true God, study the life of Jesus. He is the perfect revelation of God. And learn to pray in such a way that leads you into friendship with God. Prayer is not giving God your wish list. That will only lead to disappointment. Prayer is learning to listen to God and allowing him to transform you into the person he created you to be. Then you will know God and live in the light.