My friend Virginia has often told me she was a strong-willed child. She showed me a picture recently where she was at the top of a tall pine tree—you could just barely see her smug little face peering out from the branches. Apparently, she climbed that tree to escape some parental discipline. As her parents called up to her to come down, she stubbornly clung to the trunk and hollered back, “No!!! Not until you promise not to spank me!” and the equally empty threat, “I’m not coming down ever if you won’t promise!”
I’m sure her parents were wise enough to know that in time, Virginia would get cold/hungry/tired/bored/thirsty/scared and come back home, where her parents would administer love and discipline as needed. She, on the other hand, foolishly believed that she could climb that tree and escape the consequences of her behavior permanently.
How often am I like that silly and obstinate little girl? How often do I run from God’s loving discipline, climbing away and hoping if I stay out of reach, I can make bargains and avoid painful correction? It is as futile as Virginia’s trip up the pine tree. God will still be there, waiting for me to grow weary of holding on to my false security, until I finally let go and come back home.
I have read, wisdom is “that sense or insight which brings order to every aspect of life because one understands the proper place of God.” Wisdom understands I am a willful child in the care of a judicious Father. He sees my tendencies to be self-centered and disobedient. He wants to teach me to grow up, to mature into one who exhibits the fruit of a mature spirit. He has given me boundaries to give me peace and safety.
Proverbs 6:20-23 says, “My [daughter], keep your father’s commandment. And forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life….”
There is so much to like in that passage. I like the picture of binding wise teaching to our hearts. Another version says to “bind them continually.” It’s not a one-shot deal…it’s every day, every minute, securing God’s Word in our hearts. Then, the next part: walking, resting, waking—that pretty much covers all parts of our day—wisdom shows us where to walk, it protects us even as we rest, and (I love this!) it speaks to us while we are awake. We have a constant companion. And finally, an acknowledgement of the inescapable truth, discipline is the way of life.
Proverbs 3:11-12 reminds us to not despise or grow weary of God’s discipline, “for the LORD reproves him who He loves, as a father the son in whom He delights.” A child who has learned to trust in her parent’s teaching is confident and secure. We can climb down from our tree with the assurance that even in discipline—especially in discipline—God loves us. Let’s grow together in wisdom as we return to God’s side, yielding our hearts to His teaching.