I was always creative kid. You know, the kind who gets lost in their imagination. Long before augmented reality I would transform the world around me. A sudden terrorist attack at church and I was the only one who could save everyone. Looking out the car window I saw skateboards racing alongside us, dodging the incoming traffic. Football matches frequently disrupted by invading monsters. The adventures never ended…
…until I got to school. There was something about school that seemed to crush and restrict me. I was told to focus. To participate. To dress properly. I was disciplined. And it was the worst.
Somewhere along the way I began to believe that discipline and freedom where at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Perhaps this is part of the reason why I let school early, hoping to find that freedom I craved. For some reason, however, no one was convinced of my innate genius. After weeks of searching I found myself working in a local shop for minimum wage. Working all hours and just about paying the bills. It did not take long for me to realise that I had misunderstood discipline.
Discipline doesn’t restrict your freedom it enables it.
We think like this in most areas of our lives. If I am disciplined with my finances or my habits or my relationships then I will lose the freedom that I desire. However, the reality is that the opposite is true. When I have no discipline I find that my freedom diminishes. This is obvious with addictive drugs like alcohol and nicotine. But it is no less true when it comes to sex or anger or lies or imagination or parenting or money. Freedom is birthed out of discipline.
Proverbs 10:17 says ‘Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life.’
So build rules and limits around your relationships to protect your freedom. Develop structure around your Bible study because discipline and focus will equip you to experience spiritual freedom. Plan your finances or your spending will leave you poor.
My brother is learning Swedish at the moment. My sister asked him why he was learning it and whether he intended to move to Sweden soon. His answer surprised me.
“I have asked myself, what if all this is just to pray for one Swedish tourist one day here in England in words they properly understand – would it still be worth it? I think it would, in a God-is-extravagent-in-his-love-for-people kind of way! And what if it is to keep my brain active and teach me some discipline for something completely different that God has in mind for later in life? That is possible too. God’s planning never ceases to astound me. So I am holding lightly any interpretation as to why I might need to learn Swedish.”
He is spending hours learning a complex foreign language in case God wants him to pray of someone in Swedish one day. Or even if he doesn’t then he considers the discipline as a blessing that will bring him greater opportunities tomorrow that he would never have had capacity to experience today.
Discipline yourself so that you may experience life.