When I grew up, my dad was a really good man, but he had a Latin temperament that lent itself to acting emotionally first before stopping to consider the consequences of that emotion. For instance, if I were to run into the room shouting, “Dad! You just won a Million Dollars!” My father would yell, “Dammit! Stop yelling in the house!” and only after would he realize why I had been screaming. Okay, that instance never happened, but there were a lot of times he “reacted” rather than “Acted”. I come by it honestly. I have to admit, I have to exert an enormous amount of effort to not “react” first, before stopping to control my spirit.
My father is gone now, and he and I were pals right up to the end, so don’t feel that what I am going to say an attack or disrespectful to him. He is for sure, with Jesus right now, so I only tell this story to illustrate a point I need to make.There were many times, my three older siblings while playing in the basement or outside, would run into things and break them, or someone would make a loud, “bump” in our house while horsing around. On those occasions, my older sister Terry, thought it amusing to yell, “DOUG!” My father would hear that and without even asking me what I had done, he would take off his belt and spank me…HARD.
Now I don’t agree with the liberal position that says spanking a child is child abuse, but it should never be done in anger and never with an instrument like a belt… one should explain why the action was wrong and help the child to understand the consequences of disobedience. They should also investigate to find out what really happened. With me, that didn’t happen much. I pretty much got a butt whoopin every time my sister yelled, “DOUG!”
As I grew up, the idea of getting in trouble for doing something wrong had such horrible memories for me, that I resorted to lying…even if I had’t done anything wrong. I became a pretty proficient liar. And in terms of relating to God as my “Father” it was hopeless for me to understand that the discipline of the Lord was not a belt and was not done in anger. I would avoid confessing to anyone about areas of sin in my life. When I became involved in an authoritarian Christian group in my 20’s, I would only tell on myself to a point, realizing that the justice of men, even Christian men and women, wasn’t always JUST.
Don’t misunderstand…I did PLENTY of really bad things both at home and in my later life that deserved a healthy dose of discipline, but our world is imperfect and so are the ways we live in it. So you would wonder how in the world after growing up the way I did and then becoming involved in an overly authoritarian church setting for almost 10 years, how in the world I could ever have a healthy sense of who God is and what God means when He says that God, “disciplines the sons that He loves.”
It took spending time with the author of the book and getting to know His character. I discovered I have passed out of death and into life. I discovered he never speaks in anger with me. He never calls me harsh things, like “stupid” (a word that sent me into a tailspin of anger for almost 10 years Read my blog ‘How I became Stupid”). That word hurts…because I believed it for so long.
I have discovered that there is no huge butt whoopin waiting for me…not from the Father. There will always be consequences for my sinful actions, but those are almost always the natural result of breaking a rule or the law. Eternal butt whoopin is reserved for those who reject the Sovereignty of Jesus. Those who close any door that the Holy Spirit has opened for the redemption of men. Those who keep others from entering into a knowledge of Jesus Christ.
It is not, however a butt whoopin that will come to me. I love Jesus, and while imperfect, He looks on me and calls me perfect. If he hears someone say, “DOUG!” like my sister used to do, He will not react emotionally and jerk me by the arm onto his lap for a spanking. Instead, Jesus, looks to the Father and in the moment I am being accused by Satan, says, “He’s one of Yours Father…I paid the price for Doug. He’s a good guy because of My blood.” Then the Father smiles at me, pats me on the butt and says, “move along little lamb…move along”.I have learned that when there is something I have done that has “Missed the mark” in other words, “sinned” the first reaction I have now is to run to Him…not find a place to hide.
There is no belt waiting, but a hand of love, waiting to pull me up on his lap, so I can cry into his arms. The fear of the Lord has nothing to do with fear….but everything to do, with keeping open the lines of communication with a Father who strains to listen daily for me to speak with Him. Run to the Lord when you fall…there is no butt whoopin’ waiting…just love and forgiveness.