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The Meaning of Discipline

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

When I was saved about three years ago, my grandfather's first words to me in the shadow of a long, spiritually exhausting day were that I would never regret the decision I had made. In essence, my grandfather held that I would never make a more important decision than letting Jesus into my heart.

Aside from such forward conversations, I personally struggled at the beginning of my faith to see Jesus as a constant in my life. I moved often, had few friends, no routine, and was completely lost in my identity. Though everyone told me that God was always with me, I could not fathom the possibility of a present Father holding my hand every step of the way.

A discipline that I began after recognizing this spiritual battle was writing my prayers down in a journal. From "Dear God" to "I love you, Amen" I would expound my thoughts to God, integrating Him into my life in a very real way. I also always challenged myself to find a bible verse and a worship song for each of my entries, which made my screen time more productive.

At first, this felt frivolous, almost like the diaries that young girls write in movies. Eventually, it became the leading tool for spiritual discipline in my life. Often, those things which seem so unnecessary in our spiritual lives are the actions God calls us out of our comfort zone into. As frightening as it is, God promises us that He is our everlasting comforter if we will only take those first steps to allow Him into every part of our lives.

When one thinks of discipline, it is often accompanied by images of grueling suffering or even shame. In our earlier days of being scolded for childish mischief, this would be a correct definition. It might even describe the way one over-extends themselves in athletics or academics to propagate a secular identity. In Christ, though, discipline insinuates a much deeper, satisfying type of love and action. Christian discipline is any routine action that challenges and strengthens our faith by drawing us closer to God.

The great theologian and author C. S. Lewis once wrote that pain "insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Pain is sometimes a critical part of discipline. For instance, pain is how God roused me to begin my spirituality journal. However, discipline also comes when we realize how pertinent it is to keep God at the very center of our lives.

We must not be afraid of discipline, trusting that it will lead us closer to God and closer to that which brings us joy. Even if we are trapped in a place where worldly things bring us joy, beginning the journey of spiritual discipline will reveal the peace and clarity which it brings to every aspect of our lives.

Whether spiritual discipline in this season of your life looks like writing, getting involved in a ministry, or any number of activities, it is important that we consider this a daily priority. Rather than letting obligation fuel your spiritual discipline, focus more on loving God and allowing certain activities to grow prevalent in your walk with God. There is no shame in having the spiritual struggles that each of us has, but God reminds us that He grants us peace, love, and a sound mind from walking side-by-side with Him.

Time is precious, but there is nothing more precious to fill our time than with the presence and peace of God.

Ending Thoughts

• We see in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God does not give us a spirit of timidity. With this in mind, in what areas of your life are you living boldly for Christ?

• How do you see the Fruits of the Spirit making you more disciplined?

• In what areas of your life could you be living more boldly?

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