Thursday, May 9, 2013

Discipline

Discipline. This has become a dirty word in our culture. When I ask my youth and leaders what discipline means everyone answers with the word "punishment."

The word discipline is another word for enforcing control and inflicting punishment. However, it is also the same word used describe a field of study, a path towards changing behaviors, bringing order, and developing moral character. It is no wonder in a world where Christianity is allowed the reputation of being both life giving and demonizing that we have also let one of its most important pieces carry the same torch.

The word "discipline" comes from the Latin word "disciplina" which means
instruction given, teaching, learning, and knowledge. Another derivative of discipline is "discipulus" which means "disciple." There is no mistake that discipline and discipleship are rooted in the same meaning.


Me and my mom connecting to our roots
Our high school youth described it best on Youth Sunday this year by using the image of a tree. The way of Christ, the way of life, life tapped into the force and energy that binds us all together, whatever you feel comfortable calling it, means a way to freedom that is rooted in discipline. Being rooted in discipline allows us to be fully free to grow. This growth provided gives us an experience of this world as boundlessly rich and full of love. 

We are disciples of a way of life that is about releasing control to God and being bound to His provision. We are grafted to His life force and cut away from that tree we cannot receive nourishment. When we are tapped into the source of life then we grow and the intention of that growth is fullness in love. 

When I think about times in my life where I experienced the most joy, abiding, lifestyle joy, those seasons are always ones where I have been intentionally disciplined. It looks different for everyone. For me, I practiced the spiritual disciplines, I showed myself love, spent time experiencing God in the provision around me, and I chose a spirit of gratitude daily. 

Jesus promised a Samaritan woman that if she drank the water he could give her then she would never go thirsty again. This covenant with God is simply that if we will practice the way of discipline and allow our roots to be graphed in Him then our souls will be free to truly live.

I've often shared with people that I spent a lot of my early adult years trying to control my life. I chose the schools I studied in, I chose how I would use my time (traveling of course), I chose friends who I thought were great, I chose the guy I wanted to date. My life was really good. I could not imagine a life that could be more incredible than what I created for myself. However, in all of that time, I could not shake the little tickle inside me that reminded me that my life could be better. My life was good! How could it be better? I was living into everything that I ever wanted for myself.

A painting I created that reveals the interconnected way of a life both rooted and free to grow
Long story short, I experienced a pivotal moment of submission to God and within two months the life that I worked so hard to create was completely gone. I was fully immersed in a way of being that I never imagined for myself and it was entirely better than my wildest hopes. I was so fully alive. I was so full of life. I was so full of gratitude. I am living this stage of the journey still.I can honestly say that living in discipline, allowing myself to be blessed by God's provision, has allowed me to develop into the most joyful version of Claire known yet.

As the church, we have allowed our "God is love" mentality to erase the commitment to the daily practice of discipline. We've reduced God's way to a "good person to-do list". A life in discipleship, in discipline, is actually a practice in being part of God. Discipline is being not doing. 

I dare you to try it, just for a week, live into that little tickle-voice that is urging you to submit to a life that is better than what you can imagine. 

Be free.