(By Tammy Vaughn)
I thought that I would write a blog that touches on the area of discipline – the kind of discipline that is needed to do something that you do not really want to do but need to do. Some things that immediately come to my mind are reading the Bible, eating in a healthy way, communicating hard things to people you love, exercising and maintaining your cool when you want to blow up. The list goes on and on. Here are some thoughts on discipline.
Discipline takes courage – courage to change. It really does not take much courage to stay the way you are. It is easy to remain in the same old unhealthy patterns of life. For me, all the signs have pointed to me being unhealthy and slowly killing myself by what I was eating. However, change felt hard and staying in the same old way that I was felt easier, more comfortable.
Discipline is countercultural – to create a discipline means denying yourself of the thing that you want. It includes self control. In a culture that is all about getting what you want now and putting your own needs in front of the needs of others, denying one’s self is not the norm. The truth is that if you want to create new patterns, new norms, you have to deny yourself. It can be such a mind game. I often find myself thinking, “This is not working; why am I wasting my time?” Unfortunately, I then entertain the fearful thought that if I don’t do something to change my situation, I will be worse off and even dead.
Discipline can be difficult – quite honestly I get easily frustrated when I cannot see the results of change immediately. I recently hit a plateau in weight loss. I had to continue to follow my eating plan even though I was not losing weight. This went on for a couple of months. FRUSTRATING!!! I started to give in to temptations, little ones, but they all add up. Pretty soon I found myself justifying the little compromises. The little indulgences became acceptable. “After all”, I would tell myself, “the eating plan is not working.” I knew, however, that I had to keep at it if I ever had the hope of losing more weight.
Well, in the center of my desire to create new disciplines in my life is the person of Jesus. I was dying in my old patterns of thought and behaviors. Jesus Christ has stepped into my life and helped me create new ways of thinking, new patterns of behavior. It is like he took the Holy Spirit flashlight and shined it on areas of my life that were a mess. While Jesus stands ready to help us, he does not overstep our free will. This is important to realize because it challenges the thought of a quick fix. We all generally want a quick fix – “Jesus, take this addiction. Jesus, give me money. Jesus, heal me. Jesus, change my marriage.” For me, I used to pray that Jesus would just take the weight off my body. I believe that Jesus could melt my fat off my body in the middle of the night if He wanted to, but that hasn’t happened… yet. ☺ Instead, my daily pursuit of Him as God in my eating and exercise is how my pounds are melting away. To be more specific, I look at what I eat and ask myself, “Does this glorify God? Is this what He wants me to eat? How should I manage my time so that I can add in exercise and glorify God with my body.” “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your bodies.” I Corinthians 6:19-20
That is deep! I was bought with a price. My freedom was purchased with a price, Jesus’ very life. And I still make the wrong choices. HE did the work so that I could be free. Unhealthy patterns of behavior and thought do not line up with us being more like Jesus daily. I believe that while creating new patterns, God always meets our efforts. I love that! In fact, what does it look like to the world when they see “Christians” stuck in unhealthy patterns of thinking leading to unhealthy patterns of behavior? We look powerless and weak – not attractive or appealing and not a good representation of our Lord.
We serve a living God who is strong and mighty, who wants to help us as we walk in discipline and health. As you take a personal inventory of the un-health in your life, what are the areas where God is calling you to make changes? What is the discipline that you need to allow God to help you make so that you can be transformed to be more like Him? How do we show the world, fellow believers as well as non-believers, the gospel in action? Discipline!