The Fruit of Discipline
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."1
"A peach tree stands in our back yard," wrote K. Marshall Strom. "Unpruned, the tree grew big and leafy. It was loaded with peaches, although the fruit was disappointingly small and tasteless.
"The year my husband, Larry, was out of work, he went to work on the tree. When I came home from school one day and saw how far back he had pruned it, I stared in shock. 'You've killed it,' I cried. 'Now we won't have any peaches at all.'
"I was wrong. That spring the pruned branches burst forth with a beautiful blanketing of pink blossoms. Some little green peaches replaced the blossoms. 'Leave them alone,' I begged. Larry ignored me and thinned the fruit.
"By the end of summer the branches were so heavily laden with fruit they had to be propped up. And the peaches—how large, sweet and juicy they were! There was no denying it: the tree was far better off from the painful cutting it endured."2
I like to constantly emphasize that God's goal is not to make us good but to make us whole. The result will be that genuine goodness will be the outcome of being made whole. But to be made whole usually takes a lot of "pruning" (discipline) by God. Speaking personally, the only time I had ever taken a look at myself and broken through some defense I had been using to hide/deny some sin or fault, was when I was hurting bad enough. I mean, who wants to change when everything is going great? Not I. I may not have liked the "pruning" process but I certainly have appreciated the result ... fruit!
So, if you are going through a rough time right now, ask God to help you see if there is some lesson He is teaching you, some issue He is wanting you to deal with, or some change He sees you need to make.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that Your goal is to make me whole. Please help me to accept and submit to Your pruning and discipline and, because of these, please make me a better, more whole person. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV).
2. Cited on KneEmail, http://www.oakhillcoc.org