September 12, 2013
This past Sunday, I took a trip across the Intracoastal to one of my favorite spots on the planet. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I still lived in Atlantic Beach, and the season’s turn to fall makes the nostalgia all the worse. But this particular day, I took the trip for a very different reason than “I wanted to feel at home.”
You see, one of my favorite things about Atlantic Beach is that it’s the best of both worlds: lush, loamy trees and greenery stand only a few short steps away from endless ocean. I have a little nook that gives me a view of both. Both can be counted upon to kindly remind me how small I really am.
It’s always an appropriate posture to be in before the God who is bigger than time. But that day, it was especially so. I took up space on the corner of the deck of the place I used to live and took a deep, full breath of the morning. I needed Him to know I was there, open and willing to listen. I needed Him to know I was ready to be small again. Clearly after the weekend, I had forgotten Who was in charge of this deal and He had been quick to remind me.
It came unexpectedly, despite the fact that I can look back through the past few weeks and see where I had been ignoring His leanings on things that would come up and pushing Him to the side of an extremely busy schedule. It truly is amazing how naïve we can be when he finally shuts us down to get our attention. It’s almost like we shrug our shoulders—“What? What are You so mad about? I have no idea where this is coming from.”
Call it bricks. Call it lightening. Whatever it was, it nailed me in the middle of one of our back, less populated hallways here on campus as I was in route to class. Suddenly, He was there. His presence was so tangible that I actually stopped walking completely. It was with divine clarity that the situation at hand was thrust before my eyes. Everything stopped.
You’ve been ignoring Me. You’ve been ignoring this. And here are all the ways that it is hurting you. You will stop.
I can’t describe what it was like to face what He wanted to show me. It was ugly. The details aren’t important to my point. My point is I denied Him. I got busy, I got complacent, and I took Him out of the picture because I didn’t like what He said. I committed the ultimate no-no: I “relied on my own understanding.” And the Sunday afterward, I gave it to Him straight:
I’m soooooo sorry.
I’ve been a believer a long time. I’ve heard things and know things about God’s discipline of His children. I’ve heard us try to understand it and make it easier for non-believers and new believers to swallow. The fact is we do them a great disservice in this. God’s discipline is sometimes bone crushing, and that fact is something we’re often shy about.
But His Word is quick to bring us back to reality. If you scour the texts on “discipline,” it’s almost overwhelming how many times it’s brought up. Now, it’s nice to know we aren’t alone in our experience of God finally taking us to task on something. But they’re quick to tell us not to ignore it. They’re also quick to tell us something far more powerful.
It’s from His love. He disciplines from His immense and immeasurable love for us.
Solomon says we’d be stupid to ignore His correction. I’ll tell you we’d be stupid to ignore the leanings that lead to a correction.
I thought about all of this as I sat and stretched my gaze into the horizon. They say His affection for us stretches more than the depth and expanse of the ocean. I was trying to swallow that unfathomable truth…
Kate Hightower is writing to you from the middle of her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Thought pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville, where she is also a Byington Scholar. She’s an avid Bob Dylan fan, and can always be counted upon for decadent French cooking. And she’s madly in love with her giant, brilliant golden retriever, Stella.
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