Choosing Discipline

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do – cycle almost 5 miles in the heat of the day, especially after suffering with side pain, heartburn, and indigestion for over a week. But, at some point I decided that I had to do something for myself, for my health, for my mental well being, and I was tired of giving in to excuses.

I admit my timing could have been better, and it was by the grace of Jesus that I made it all the way back home without A. Passing out, B. Vomiting, C. Cramping up from pain, or D. Passing out while vomiting from cramping up with pain. Literally, in my head because I was afraid if I opened my mouth B. would happen, I begged, “Jesus, get me home. Just get me home.”

I practically tumbled off the bike, groped for the door, clutched my aching body and collapsed in my chair. I needed water, but I was afraid if I moved I would black out and land on our precious dog… For which, I would never forgive myself!

After a few deep breaths and some intense prayers of thankfulness, I thought, “I can’t possibly do that again.”
Then I heard a voice I immediately dismissed, “But you have to.”
Ugh.
So I bartered, “Well, I need to work my way up to that… I didn’t get sick until about the 3rd mile, I’ll just shave down the time.
“Until it’s no time?” Challenged the voice.
Sighh.
The Voice knew me well, and the more it spoke, the better I knew IT. “It’s discipline, Les.”
Oh and now there was no doubt. “Daddy, I think I bit off more than I could feasibly chew. Besides, I’m not sure how well the bike will hold up. It’s only gonna get hotter.”
Excuses.
His response, “I know.”
I stammered back in my heart, “But… But…”
Silence.
What could I say? Another excuse, another one million and ten reasons why I made a commitment and wasn’t going to see it through. I dropped my head in defeat. “I’m gonna fail.”
Then, I felt Him smile. I imagined Him pulling me close and letting me rest my tears on His big, broad shoulders, “It’s not about whether you succeed or fail… It’s that you try again.”
I pouted, “But what if I don’t?”
And the answer came back so tenderly, “Then you let yourself down.”
My lips trembled and my hands went to cover my face in shame.
“Did you hear me, daughter?”
I nodded, “I’ll let you down.”
I swear I heard Him laugh. “Me!? I said you! You will let yourself down! You set this goal for yourself! I want to see you press on and accomplish it because I don’t want you to blame yourself a million days later for failing!”
I stopped, “But you said this was about discipline?”
He pulled me tighter, “It is. Don’t you think, if I wanted to, I could set a passion so deep in your heart for this that to miss even one day would be heartbreaking and unthinkable?”
I really hadn’t thought of that, but nothing with Him was impossible. “Could you?”
Again, I felt Him laugh, “I can. But what satisfaction and accomplishment would you feel?” (Oh this Guy and His riddles.) 🙂 “It boils down to choices, Love. You choose for yourself life or death, blessings or curses.”

And, I got it.

I choose what I do next, and as I challenge myself to move beyond my fears of what is comfortable or what seems possible, my faith grows and my confidence grows and as they grow so does the power He has placed in me! It might seem like no big deal, cycling almost 5 miles, but compared to yesterday my heart is a little stronger, my muscles a little tighter, and my spirit a little lighter. And that is one day… And as for my excuses… They may surface again… And a few days I may succumb, but I will choose to try again. After all, I don’t want to let myself down, and my Daddy has already called my number.

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The Thorn

I’ve been studying about Thorns this week…not actual thorns on rose bushes and other such deceptively beautiful plants…but flesh thorns, those things that stick and fester and cause us to doubt everything God created us to be. They take on many names, you have seen them if not felt them: molestation, rape, insecurity, fear, abuse, infidelity, abortion, abandonment, sexuality, depression, or divorce. In just a matter of minutes, in most cases, they stick fast, and there they are, to be contended with or not.

I have dealt with my thorn for almost 30 years. A thorn I didn’t have any control or say over, and a thorn that was innocently thrust in. But, a thorn is a thorn, and so year after year, phase after phase, situation after situation, that same thorn poked and throbbed and tortured me. Yes. TORTURED me.

During this week, I felt its jab again. Because, we are after all studying thorns, and mine for so many years has been so real, so evident, so deep. So, as I do, when I see the evidence of the thorn I take it before God. This week, He taught me something that I have been too scared or too ashamed to see before, something that I want to share with you.

For years, I have pictured myself, as a little girl pouting before almighty God and showing Him my thorn. It would stick, I would hurt, I would cry and take it to my Father…and show it to Him. A year ago I did this, and He reached for it. I finally extended my hand far enough and held it out long enough that He grabbed my arm gently and pulled it to Him. I watched in admiration and humility as this thorn that had been giving me so much pain for so many years, was being pulled out! He dried my tears, danced with me, and instructed me to move forward and make a difference.

That boldness wasn’t without opposition. You see, for every step I moved to make a difference and to share what I had learned, the enemy met me with discouragement and fear and a greater attempt to discredit me and what God had called me to be. I wrestled with that, and every time, though knocked down for a moment, he discovered I wasn’t down for the count. So he dug deeper, and sent that fiery dart straight into my scar from my thorn.

Wounded, brutally broken, I nursed my thorn again. Angry and disappointed, pointing that finger at God, He offered to hold it. I pulled back, afraid. What if it hurt more this time, what if the thorn was bigger, what if it had never been removed at all, but only hidden? So, I held it out to Him, only to show Him with a pout that I was hurting yet again.

Yesterday, in my prayer time, I tried to show Him my scar, but He wouldn’t look at it. It’s a really strange feeling to be vulnerable before God and feel that He is disinterested. So, I dropped my hand and kept at my work, figuring I had done something wrong. Then last night, He spoke to me. He spoke to me in a picture, my picture, our picture.
I saw Lily (my 8 year old) hurting, crying, pouting holding her hand, looking at it. Her Daddy came up and asked her what was wrong, and she showed him her finger, “It hurts; it’s my thorn.” He reached for it and she pulled back, “NO! It’ll hurt worse! You’ll hurt me!” He stooped down and reached again, “Can I please just see your hand?” Defiant and crying, she pulled her hand away and told him no. Then seriously, he reached out for it again, “Honey, you have to trust me.” She looked at him, considering this request, but convinced that only she could effectively nurse her wound, she attempted to pull the thorn out on her own. Watching her, and sympathizing, he wouldn’t be dismayed, “Can I show you something?” Lily still holding her hand slowly raised her finger, cautiously. “Where is the thorn?” he asked. Confused she grabbed back her finger, “It’s…” He smiled and picked her up and placed her on his shoulders.

This morning, I woke up and understood. It’s GONE. This thing that I have tried to nurse, and I’ve been trying to understand, and I’ve been showing God for sympathy, is actually gone. The pain that I feel is real, but it isn’t the thorn. It’s a result of the thorn, one of the effects of the thorn, but the thorn itself… it was removed a year ago. So, today I have two choices: I can keep holding my hand, pouting over a wound that is healing and a thorn that is gone, or I can go forward in the truth that My Father can be trusted…and what He says is true, and He doesn’t undo what He has done, and He is lifting me up. After all, He showed me, I am on His shoulders, and the beauty of it is, His shoulders are broad enough to carry all of us!