I drove past a church that had placed signs in their yard along the roadside with individual letters on them that read: “D I S C I P L E N O W“. As my mind tried to process the letters while driving, I read it as “discipline ow“. I got tickled, leading a disciplined life really does hurt sometimes, but the benefits outweigh the pain. “No pain, no gain” – right?
Discipline doesn’t always feel good. Ask anyone who has successfully undertaken a healthy lifestyle of eating and exercise.
This New Year’s Eve as you make (once again) that resolution to transform your body into a healthy, lean machine you know intellectually that it’s not enough to join the gym. Right? In order to become a healthier person, you have to actually go to the gym and workout. You have to discipline yourself not to eat that chocolate cake. Ow. Ow. Ow. Now that hurts, but if you are committed,
persistent, tenacious, and endure some short-term, temporary pain, you begin to form strong healthy bones and muscles, and lose flabby, useless fat. However, if you just join the gym and never actually go or if you do go to the gym but spend all of your time visiting with friends, your body is not going to be transformed and this time next year, you will be in the same shape you are now. Nope, you have to do the hard work, it takes discipline. Ow.
Since the signs were in a church yard, they must not have been referring to physical discipline. Certainly spiritual discipline can make us say “ow” as well. Being a follower of Jesus’ way of living isn’t for wimps or the faint-hearted. Joining a church is one step to being a follower of Jesus, but just like joining the gym won’t get you in physical shape unless you do the exercises, joining the church alone won’t transform your life. You have to do the spiritual exercises. To be spiritually fit requires regular disciplines of prayer – ow, study – ow, fasting – ow, silence- ow, solitude – ow, self-examination – ow, ow, which leads to conviction and repentance – triple ow. Of course like a massage after a tough workout, there’s the soothing effects of forgiveness which help our souls to relax. But before your spiritual muscles become limp, you hear that inner voice say, “and you must also forgive your enemies.” – ouch. Discipline ow is right.
Well you may have already figured this out, but when I was headed back to the interstate, I read the sign again except this time, I figured out that they were promoting a class “Disciple Now”. Either way, I got the message.
Happy New Year!
“Rejoice in this, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials … you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
I Peter 1:6-9, NRSV