Lesson #7: God disciplines us because He wants to be able to trust us.
Jesus told the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”
After learning and experiencing points 1-6 about God’s discipline (see points 1-3 and points 3-6), I didn’t have a negative reaction to that verse anymore. It had started to make sense that God’s correction is love. God’s correction had even started to feel like love. I read that and thought, “It’s one of His ‘love languages.’ To ‘rebuke and discipline’ His children in His perfect way is one of His ‘love languages’ for showing love.”
But I also figured He must have another love language to go along with “rebuke and discipline.” For two reasons: 1) I knew He doesn’t want to rebuke and discipline us as an end in itself. So what is He really wanting when He does that? What is the goal? What is the purpose that is so needed and worth it that it makes His correction an expression of love? And 2) I know that “rebuke and discipline” isn’t the way He will show His love to us in heaven. So what will replace it? How will He show love when we don’t need to be corrected anymore?
So I asked Him these questions, and I felt like He said,
“Yes, I do have another ‘love language,’ as you put it, to go with ‘rebuke and discipline. My other love language is to trust you. I want to be able to trust you. I want to be able to trust you with responsibility. I want to be able to trust you with freedom. I want to be able to trust you with choices. I want to be able to trust you with authority. I want to be able to trust you to obey Me. So whenever I can trust You with things, I will. And as soon as we reach a place where you show Me that I can’t trust you with something, that is where I rebuke and discipline you until I can trust you again. It’s like moving the rocks out of the road so that we can keep driving down the road together. Both removing the rocks (rebuking and disciplining you so that you repent and trust and obey) and driving the car (trusting you) are the same love. And so in this life, that process of trust-discipline-trust-discipline is always repeating, with each time you respond to My discipline leading to ever-increasing trust. Every time I discipline you, it is because I want to be able to trust you with more.”
This reminded me of a picture He once gave me. It was after I had started to only fight with God’s conviction for several minutes before I surrendered and obeyed Him instead of fighting for several days, and therefore, I thought I was doing quite well. Then He gave me the picture of a surgeon and his assistant during surgery. The surgeon just holds out a gloved hand, says one word, and his poised and watching assistant instantly puts the correct scalpel in his hand. He doesn’t have to raise his voice or repeat himself or threaten to give the assistant a time out or say “Don’t make me count to three!” There isn’t time to count to three. Somebody’s life is on the table. That’s why toddlers don’t get to assist in surgeries, even if they’ve been throwing fewer tantrums lately. The surgeon’s assistant is mature, trained, and trusted, standing there with her whole being poised to do exactly what the surgeon asks, instantly, without question or complaint, at his slightest signal.
And that, He said, was where He wanted to get me to. That was the goal we were working towards. He had taught me many things as if I were a toddler being trained to obey. He said He wanted me to obey His voice “immediately, cheerfully, and completely,” as my parents used to say. He said that He was God and He should never have to say anything twice (although in His mercy, He sure does!). But His goal was never for me to just become a better-behaved toddler. His purpose was to be able to trust me like a surgeon’s assistant. To trust me to partner with Him. To trust me to join His work. To trust me to obey so much that He could bring me along when the Holy Spirit is “cutting open” the lives of people: healing them, interacting with the inside of their wounded hearts, and bringing salvation to their eternal souls.
I want that. I don’t want God to spend the rest of my life “counting to three” to get me to obey. I want to be free of the fear that says, “I’m afraid to learn to hear God’s voice because He might tell me to do something I don’t want to do,” free like Jesus was free. Like Jesus, I want to hear the Father’s voice so clearly and respond so quickly that we move as one, like a pair of Olympic figure skaters. I want to be somebody He can trust.