Recently my daughter, Grace, has taken on a particular bad habit. It is not an act of willful disobedience, but rather a particular socially awkward behaviour we are teaching her to avoid. Any guesses? It involves a finger and a nose.
This has required a soft scolding from time to time. Gracie does not appreciate this admonishment and her frustration is quickly apparent. It has been fascinating to see that each time we say “No” to Grace in this situation, she begins to sob deeply. I certainly do not love to see my daughter weep with sorrow. However, if I am holding her at this moment, she always rests her head on my shoulder and snuggles into my neck as she cries. This is a very good feeling for a daddy.
I love so much that even while she is frustrated with my fathering, she still knows that I am a safe place of refuge. She knows that I love her, and that is why she clings to me as she laments.
Being a daddy to my little girl is giving me wonderful glimpses into my relationship with Father God. As Grace cuddles up to me in the midst of her frustration, I am challenged to consider how I relate to God when I receive his correction. How do I respond to His discipline?
Hebrews 12:5,6 says “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (NIV, 2011).
My appreciation of Gracie’s sobbing hugs is a reminder of how God feels about us. It would break my heart if she were to glare at me and run from the room when I give her correction (I know those days are coming sooner or later!) This would hurt because I am simply seeking her good. I love Gracie and it is in her best interest to heed the discipline.
In accordance with this Scripture passage, I believe that our heavenly Father uses various difficult circumstances in our lives to correct and mature us. This is discipline. The Hebrews 12 passage goes on to say that he does this to produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives. It is God’s aim to remind us of our need for Him and to grow us in faithfulness to His ways.
So my question is this: When I experience discipline from my heavenly Father, do I turn away with defiance or do I lean into Him seeking solace? Do I reject His counsel in my life, believing Him to just be a mean guy, or do I remember He is the perfect Father who is a good and safe haven?
Thankfully, Gracie trusts me. I am a place of refuge for her. She does not believe a sternly spoken “No” to be the entirety of how I feel about her. I think that in her innocence and trust, even as she is not pleased, she knows the rebuke is subject to my love for her.
I love it when my little girl wraps her arms around my neck and sobs as she wrestles with her frustration with correction.
I have a hunch that our Father in heaven also smiles when we cling to him as we grapple with the pain of discipline.