I started this post 98 days ago when I was talking with a friend over the phone. She was complimenting me on how I explain God’s grace but I don’t negate consequences. Right then is when I remembered something the Lord told me years ago and I better understand it now then I did then and I want to share it with you.
About six months after my second child was born (He will be 16 this July), I began to question God on how He wanted my husband and I to raise our boys. To put it plainly I had a two-year old and a six month old and I needed HELP!! I knew He had created them and knew them better than I or Bryan did, and He would know exactly what they needed in every way. I also knew God, because of His great love, would tell me what I needed to know when I needed it. It is great when you haven’t been too churchified (haha just made that word up) and simply trust the Holy Spirit (this is how we are supposed to live in Christ).
So, I had a two-year old and a six month, I was a stay at home mom and I wanted to know what God wanted for them. There were many things He shared with me over the years. The one I really want to talk about today is something He called “Natural Consequences”. I needed an explanation of that term because I didn’t understand it. Some of it He explained right away the rest I understood along the way as I walked with Him in this adventure of raising two boys. He had explained it was necessary for them to learn to choose well for themselves. Sometimes they wouldn’t choose well and that is when natural consequences would happen. He also explained, in choosing we learn to take responsibility for our choices and learn from them. God assured me He would will help me teach (discipline) Taylor and Cameron with “natural consequences” as we walked this out together. He let me know that what He was showing me is how He deals with us, His children. I use “natural consequences” to train you or disciple you because I love you so very much. One of the very first things I learned is the Jewish belief about the fifth commandment and how it has to do with the impression parents have on their children will have an impact on how those children view God. It is very important that Jewish parents help their children see a loving Heavenly Father. I also studied His word regarding punishment and discipline, fear of the Lord vs fear, and began to understand the difference (1 John 4:18). I was to disciple these two boys utilizing the wisdom of God because I had the Holy Spirit. Did I always get it right, oh no I didn’t!!! My two boys could attest to that…even my husband, Bryan could. I made mistakes and asked my children to forgive me and moved forward. Yet, even in my mistakes there were great lessons for them, my husband and myself. Which in turn the Lord used to being good in our lives.
As the boys grew up, they understood that their choices held natural consequences. I would make sure they understood what their consequences would be. As adults most of us know what consequences will be. If we touch a hot stove, our hand will burn. If we play in traffic, we have the potential to be struck by a car. If we speed we could get a speeding ticket and so on. What is great for parents, in Christ, is we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our parenting. As adults we have the Holy Spirit which will guide us into all truth and at times God uses circumstances to get our attention or even bring about the healing that you have been asking for. It might not look like it right now, but later it will pay off handsomely. As I look at our two boys now at the age of 17 and 16, I am amazed at the young men they have become. They are able to come to me or my husband about anything and talk with us-just like we should be with God. They take responsibility for choices-just like we should do in life. They own them and are able to make them without a fear but in Christ’s love with the help of the Holy Spirit. They have also walked through a tuff time and their choices amazed me. How they chose to walk in love brought me to tears because I saw the end result but would not steal this learning process for them. Trust me they had their own process, but that is theirs to share.
Over the past year, I have walked through some things that were painful and yet I see God and His great love. I see that God always brings good out of everything for those that love them.(Romans 8:28) I recently saw more good when a friend and I were talking about something she sees the Lord had done in her family. But to get to that point of good sometimes we go through horrible situations with people. While she was talking I knew that the Lord had wanted to rid me of people pleasing or man pleasing and the only way He could have done this was through what I went through last year with people. I had prayed for it, I wanted Him to just heal me, fix me. But He used natural consequences to do so. He used people, situations.
I need to make a few things very clear:
First, this in no way means He judged me. No, because He has already justified me. (Romans 4:5). God can not judge those He has already justified. He judges only if we believe in Him or not. (1 Corinthians 11:27-34) He was bringing my healing about through the use of real life choices, circumstances and through people being well…..mean. I learned people pleasing was not healthy. That was my part to learn in all of this. And God’s timing is always perfect. What I see is that God knows us
perfectly inside and out. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it and how we need it to happen. He uses our choices, people, circumstances all in our favor even when it doesn’t look like it is in our favor. What I had learned long ago is to remind myself all things work towards my good, trusting in His discipline to cause the dross to be burned away and more gold to shine through. Learning this long ago, through life circumstances, served me well over the last year.
Second, He truly has His best for me and those He loves He disciplines. It is not punishment as He already put His Son in our place and Jesus took all of our punishment. God does not use anything that was already put on His Son at the Cross to discipline us. So that means no sickness, no disease, death, no condemnation, no sin is used to “discipline” us. That would be contrary to what the Cross accomplished. He doesn’t take something just to give it back…that doesn’t make sense!!?!?!! God did not tempt you with sin to teach you something. But He will use the natural consequences to learn and grow. That is why all things work for our good. Please note there is a difference between our Horizontal and Vertical life experiences. What Christ did on the Cross justified us to God and wiped all sin for all time from us and made us righteous in Him. We are now His sons and daughters in Christ. That NEVER changes. God does use the horizontal to work for our good, our discipline. Here is a simple analogy…when we eat too much candy we can feel sick. Was eating too much candy a sin….well we could look at gluttony. Did God say hey you sinned against me so I am going to make you sick? No, of course He didn’t. Yet, it was a natural consequence to your behavior or choice and even then you have a choice to ask God–are you showing me something? What do we learn…eating too much candy can make me feel sick and as we turn to God and ask Him what do you want to show me? He answers to help us see things His way=True Repentance. He doesn’t “cause” these “bad” circumstances to happen to you. He utilizes real life situations that have occurred because of our choice, other people’s choices or both. They are naturally occurring in our lives. There is usually something within ourselves that God sees that we don’t that He wants to show us and help us with.
Third, I don’t want people to get so caught up with “making the right choice”. I have seen people so afraid to make a choice because “it might not be what God wants for them”, “what if I make the wrong choice”???? This just shows that we have the wrong view of God. God is not up in heaven just waiting for you to make a mistake so He can blast you with a lightening bolt. In this scenario, we are starting at the wrong starting point. We see God in the wrong way-He is against us and is a punisher rather than seeing Him as good and for us. He knows your choices already, so move forward in confidence with Him. Don’t be so afraid you can’t hear Him. Sometimes it is simply just a choice. God gave us common sense we should use it. Like I can’t swim, so do I jump in the ocean??? No!!! I am using a silly example, but truly let’s not check our common sense at the door of any church, business, or life situation.
Lastly, He also doesn’t use weather or natural disasters to discipline us. The weather is simply a sign that the earth is groaning for the return of His Son. (Romans 8:22) He uses people in our path, circumstances in our life or better called “natural consequences” to teach us. If you have read C.S. Lewis’, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, Lewis talks about “deep magic” that was set about in the very beginning before the creation of Narnia. Just like that, God set natural consequences in motion for our good. This does not correlate in any way to the thinking if we do something then God will do something for us. In the New Covenant God loves, God did, God gave, God continues to give and give and give and He loves us enough to bring us from glory to glory through His loving training=discipline or discipleship. Here is the scripture in Hebrews 12 the Message version:
“So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” Hebrews 12:4-11
God desires us alive, well and mature. I believe when we start with the wrong belief that God turns away from us, punishes us when we sin; rather than the truth that God is always running towards us because all our sin for all time has been taken care of at the Cross this is when we can begin to despise or fear the training of the Lord. The truth is perfect love casts out all fear because fear involves punishment and the one who fears is not perfected in love.(1 John 4:18) Be perfected in love knowing now that He will never leave you nor forsake you. He has already justified us through His Son so we will not be judged. God is good and He loves you enough to use “natural consequences” to take us from glory to glory-otherwise known as maturity in Him.
People have always wondered why God just doesn’t fix them in an area…….like my people pleasing……it is because some things have to be taken out through circumstances. He is God and His ways are above mine. So, I trust Him. It is that simple. He loves me, completely. I am safe with Him. His Son took all sin, condemnation, sickness, disease and He conquered death, so that I can have all His promises. He treats me like a son and His bride. I am fully qualified in and through Jesus. He wants the best for me and goes about using life, people, choices to make it so for me. To see it His way is true repentance. In and through all things…I trust Him and know He knows how to burn the dross away from me, so I can shine for Him more brightly.