Tonight I spanked my daughter. For all of you “love and logic” disciples out there I hope you can recover from the shock long enough to finish this. I believe that spanking is one tool in the belt of discipline, it is never to be done in anger and it is not a means by which a parent should “relieve stress”. It is a reminder that punishment isn’t always a mere inconvenience but a memorable experience.
That being said, I will completely admit, I hate spanking my daughter. This is true for more than one reason on more than one level and right now there is neither time nor reason to go into all of those for the point I am going to make.
I finished reading the writings of the prophet Ezekiel recently. It was an arduous journey through a complex book, with very little in the way of spiritual oasis along the way. The book spend a great deal of time explaining the reason for God’s current and impending judgment on Israel, as well as describing what He is going to do to them by way of judgment. Now, while some of you fundamentalists out there might begin to feel the beginnings of a grin tugging at the corners of your mouth when I say “God’s judgment”, the rest of us do not. Judgement is not the topic that I really love to hear about, for me or anyone else. It’s not that people don’t deserve it both spiritually and in the physical world of courts, but even if someone deserves judgment it is still evidence that wrong has been done, that someone has been victimized, and that the world is not yet perfect.
But, with regard to Ezekiel, it is easy after so much judgment talk to begin to see God as a stick wielding deity whose cold heart just loves to whack His kids when they get out of line. But it occurred to me again this evening that God is a good Father, and as much as I strive to be a good father I will never be as good as Him. In that reality I find that it breaks my heart to have to punish my little girl. Her cries and whimpers and snubs (though some of it does result from a fair amount of dramatic license on her part) do not give me the slightest bit of pleasure or satisfaction. Discipline is healthy and necessary. If she doesn’t learn to obey me there is the possibility that the stakes may one day be higher than a finished meal or a carpet burn. If she is near a road and there is danger, I want her to react to my voice immediately, not after an argument and a tantrum – at that point it may be too late.
God has to discipline me at times. While He is gracious and merciful, I push Him more than I should and He, with love and care for my soul, corrects me. And tonight I was reminded that there has never been a time when He punished, corrected, or disciplined me that He enjoyed the process. He does it because He loves me, not because He loves correction or my discomfort.
Friends, I encourage you to never see God as a grinning judge, loving every minute of dishing out the punishment for your disobedience. He is a loving Father who hates to take a child across His knee, but who also loves us enough to do just that from time to time.