Getting up and going to church this morning was an exercise in that dreaded word: discipline. I wasn't surprised by my lack of desire to go since I had identified discipline as a thing I have been struggling against lately. I reminded myself that the pastor had not finished his series on Mark and that I have been enjoying it and also that my Sunday School teacher had spoken of some potential changes for the class. I wouldn't want to miss any announcements.
I wasn't disappointed about going, and in time I will triumph in my struggle with discipline... In fact, things that were spoken this morning inspired me greatly in other areas of this struggle: namely my daily study (which I have been neglecting often).
It is time for me to wrap up my study of A Heart Like His, which has been extremely fruitful, and return to my studies of Believing God and The Foundation Stones which I did not complete last year. There are also other study topics individually that are tugging at me. I need to become a lot more dilligent than I have been, and I will likely find that I have much more energy in my struggle against that dreaded d word.
The topic du jour in Sunday school was a question: "Why does God allow suffering?" This is not a new question for me. It IS something that my thinking has changed a lot about over the years; and that is evidence to me of the maturing of my faith. Yet my faith still often seems so small in so many ways! So I am once again brought back to the importance of nurturing my faith and building it on a foundation of truth. To be honest (and honesty is different from truthfulness), I too often place my faith in what God does and not in who He IS. I don't trust His sovereignty even when the circumstances make me think that He failed to answer me, and I especially don't trust it when they make it seem that He has answered me in the opposite manner from what I asked for. "You gave me a stone when I asked for bread!" "You said that whatever I asked for I would receive!" All wailed with the most toddlerish of temper tantrums and without the least bit of wisdom or understanding of His Word or His character! I want the benefits but not the work... He said that I would receive what I asked for, but not that I could use Him as a vending machine and then forget about him... That's often what I do. I don't set myself apart for His glory as Jesus did; and I certainly don't commune with Him!
Three years ago, I asked God to heal me of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. I was desperate: I had no insurance and very little money and had weaned myself off all of my medications because I could not afford them. I felt impressed that if I would do certain things to care for myself physically, God would respond by healing me. I did my part to the best of my ability--and I remained free of illness for three years. The illness returned when I began to get lax about my studying and to take my health for granted.
I'm back on my medications, back on my nutrition kick as reasonably as I can be, working to keep my house as allergen-free as possible... But there is a missing element, and I know it. I've been praying again. God would not allow illness in my life that would interfere with my singing if He had called me to sing for Him. At the same time, He will not allow me to sing if I am ignoring Him. How can I take that responsibility without being prepared for it?
So I am called to a higher level of sanctification in response to the promise of His healing: to set myself apart by committing myself to study.