We had a discipline issue this week. A task reminded multiple times over the past year. The realization that something more than just reminding would be necessary for the lesson to be learned. Specific punishment promised. Warning not heeded. Deep frustration and even anger over being blatantly ignored yet again. Discipline administered.
And a broken heart.
I’m not talking about my child’s broken heart. Oh, there were many tears and much angst over the whole ordeal, to be sure. But, in this particular instance I am talking about my own broken heart. More than the frustration. More than the anger. Just pure heartache.
So often I read through the Old Testament and wonder how in the world the Israelites could possibly sin over and over and over again in such grievous ways. But, then I came face to face with it in my own child. God had made the consequences of sin very plain, as He made the rewards of obedience. In the same way, I made the consequences of disobedience and obedience plain. But, my precious, beloved child chose disobedience.
Even worse, I saw my own heart. I saw the numerous times I have repeated the same old sin over and over. I remembered my heart as a child, and I saw a clear glimpse of my heart as an adult as well. I do it too.
But this time I also saw it all from God’s perspective. The discipline that broke my heart was miniscule. True, I had to deprive my precious child of something special. But, it was really a little thing in the long run. It won’t produce long-term grief. It just made a point in the moment. But doing it made me want to cry.
I can only imagine how God must have felt when He allowed nations to conquer His people. I can only imagine how He must have felt when He sent them into exile. Such sorrow. Such heartbreak. More than I could ever begin to fathom. And I can only imagine the heartbreak He feels each time we blatantly disregard the commands that He gives. The very commands that give us life!
I pulled my “little” one close and we talked about the Israelites. We even talked about how following a set of rules isn’t what faith in Christ is all about. I shared that the more we draw close to God in a relationship, the more we hunger to be pleasing to Him. The more it breaks our hearts when we break His. We talked about showing Him our love by our obedience. Not to check boxes off a good behavior checklist, but to truly show Him our love.
And to be reminded of His love.
As we snuggled on the couch, my child knew my love. Another of my children comes to me for a hug immediately after any discipline is administered, wanting to be reminded of my love. God disciplines us out of His love. And, He wants us to be reminded of His love.
He wants us to know His love so much that He is willing to experience heartache and grief to remind us.
The whole discipline incident this week made me hunger more and more to please Him. It made me hunger to break His heart less and less. But, it also reminded me of His intense love for me – a love so intense that He’s willing to experience grief over it. In fact, He loved me so much He experienced the ultimate grief; the grief of Jesus Christ dying, forsaken, on the Cross.
Oh, what love!