When my sister, Paulette, was old enough to board the big yellow school bus for first grade, I felt lost without the companionship of a playmate. That’s when I ventured down the graded dirt road to visit Bobby Jones who lived with his parents on the adjoining farm. It didn’t seem to matter that he was a year younger than my five years. Bobby had toys!
This child who became my best friend, had a fairy godmother in the guise of his mother’s sister. Aunt Bill rarely arrived for a visit without bearing gifts. Boy toys, of course, but I didn’t mind. She would occasionally bring something special for Paulette and me.
The Jones’ were getting an indoor bathroom and the huge mound of dirt left behind from digging the septic tank provided hours of fun–building roads, castles and even heaven. The gifts of trucks and cars made their way over our roads and around our mountains.
One day we were bored with playing in the dirt and looked around for something more challenging. We found an old portable chicken coop that Bobby thought his father could do without. A couple of hammers made their way into our anxious hands and we went to work, pounding the boards from the A-frame structure and removing the chicken wire.
We were almost finished and felt elated at our accomplishment when Mr. Jones discovered the demolition of his chicken coop. Bobby’s father wasn’t at all pleased with our hard work. To the contrary, he appeared furious with us for destroying his safe place for the baby chicks.
During the entire project, neither of us suspected that we were doing wrong. Not once did we consider the baby chicks. Hence, we were surprised when I was sent home and Bobby was left to endure a promised punishment. I ran back down the road, crying in fear and confusion. How could Mr. Jones think we’d done wrong when it seemed so right?
A few days past before I ventured back up the road to play with Bobby. When I did, the reconstructed chicken coop sat as a glaring reminder of that disastrous day. I suspected my own father helped with the rebuilding of the coop. Although I don’t remember receiving the first lecture on the subject, I learned the importance of respecting the property of others.
As I grew older and remembered this incident from my childhood, I could no longer claim innocence as an excuse. I’d been taught right from wrong and understood that there were consequences for my behavior. When I had questions, the Holy Spirit of God moved in to point me in the right direction or to correct me when I strayed from the truth.
Over the years, there have been several painful moments when I knew I’d walked in disobedience. Love and kindness had not dominated my conversation; pride, envy and jealousy had ruled my actions; bitterness and unforgiveness shadowed the situation; truth had not been spoken. Though all these actions spoke of disobedience to God, they also injured others and required the discipline of reconciliation.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 (ESV)
Is it painful? You bet. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The “peaceful fruit of righteousness” grows within us an abundance of other fruit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Are you willing to be trained by the discipline of God’s Spirit?