For some time a couple of years ago I was blessed to have a spiritual director who I met with monthly. Towards the end of my time with her, I remember complaining, “I feel like God is getting down into the nooks and crevices and cleaning out every little speck of dirt he can find. I wish it would stop. Hasn’t he done enough? Does he really have to get into all the little, tiny places? I’m ready for him to be done”
It’s like it says in scriptures: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” (Hebrews 12:11) Too often, we think of discipline as punishment, but discipline is teaching. It is correcting, leading, challenging and pushing the recipient to mature and grow up. In proverbs, discipline is described as “training a child up”. Punishment isn’t the point. Correction is. And when we submit to the training God would like to take us through, it is easy and rewarding enough. But often God starts messing in places we’d just as soon leave alone. I mean, if I sometimes say mean things when provoked, that’s only normal and hardly needs God to attend to, right? But God says that his work is to perfect us. And according to him, such things really do require attending to if they are not to be a barrier between us.
The end of that verse from Hebrews holds the promise, though: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Today, I am glad that God was willing to reach into all those nooks and crevises to get out as much dirt as possible. There is no way I could survive the place I am walking through if he hadn’t. At the time, I just wanted it to stop, but God knew what was coming. He prepared me for just this time of testing. And although at the momemnt, I’d just as soon not have to deal with any of it, I am very, very grateful that I am following a God who can prepare and provision me long before I know that I will need it.
Is there something that you know God wants you to clean out and change? Have you been resisting? Or are you cooperating, but complaining like I was? Take heart; hopefully your faith will never be put to the test, but the day will come that you are glad to have been subjected to such intense attention and discipline. It may be just what you need for a journey you do not yet know you will be taking.