Saturday, March 3, 2012

Building Discipline

I've been struggling lately with personal disciplines.  I don't know if it is the slump after a mountaintop retreat, catching the flu, or just my lack of will.  But I sense God leading me to rebuild an area of my life hardest of all to restore   . . . my own household.  That might seem strange to some of you.  But over the years I've learned it comes easier to win battles from without than within.

I can easily recognize my need of God when it comes to ministry--teaching, encouraging, discipling.  But sometimes in my home I think I can accomplish a haven by my own strength through personal disciplines.  I align my goals and desires with my will and set my face as flint.  Watch out, here I come!  My motto has been, "if you're going to do something, do it well and do it right," my formula for determination.  But that's all wrapped up in self.  My strength, my will power, my discipline.  And what a platform for pride.  God's strength made perfect in my great efforts of discipline?  Not!  Only in weakness. 

I've been reading of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, a fascinating story of great determination.  I cannot help but think of the verse from Proverbs 25:28 which says, "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control."  And after the walls are built, Nehemiah leads a choir of Jews clockwise around the wall, while Ezra leads another choir of Jews counterclockwise, until they meet at the Temple.  There they worship and praise God after calling the people to inhabit Jerusalem.  But to inhabit it they must leave their places of lodging elsewhere and seek to dwell where conditions are not yet up to par, hostile with foreigners, and a little uncomfortable.  They are commanded to build up the holy city from the inside now that the walls are built.

And I sense God's nudge on my heart to build up this home. The winds of change are here, and the dynamics of our family are moving as well.  We are diminishing and going in separate paths wherever God leads.  I will soon say goodbye to another child off to a college far away, and a daughter beginning her first year of middle school, leaving my youngest at home for her last year of homeschooling, all by herself.  Most of my days will be with one child, very different from what I'm used to.  Our summer is gone already, whisked away with schedules and events.  Can stability be found in this? 

God is asking me to build this house from the inside.  But in order for the insides of this home to be built, I must exhibit self-control--personal disciplines.  Otherwise my house is like a city with its walls broken down, vulnerable to attack.  But there is my struggle, because it is in this area that I find it hardest to discipline myself.  Exercise?  Check.  Time in the Word?  Love it.  Prayer?  A little harder.  Planning meals?  Ugh.  Cooking?  Blah. In a rut.  Grocery shopping?  Groan.  Organization?  So overwhelming I don't even know where to start. These are the areas God is nudging me to work on.  The areas nobody from the outside really sees except my family.  I need to make my family a priority in order for us to be strong.

I would much rather tackle outside difficulties.  But God asks me to tackle inside ones.  Just when I think I've gotten a handle on discipline I then realize I've actually fallen very short.  Once again I fall on my knees and cry out to God to be strength in me for this hard thing, because I cannot do it on my own.  Yes, even for these mundane tasks I need the power of the Holy Spirit within me.  I fail over and over.  Help me Jesus, to be a good wife, a good mom, a good homemaker.   Above all else, that is to be my first priority, but often the hardest place for me to be victorious.  I hope, by God's power in me, to march around the boundaries of my home like Nehemiah and Ezra with confidence, leading my children in songs of praise . . . because the inside is made strong through the walls of the personal disciplines of their parents. 

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."  Psalm 127:1

Watch over my house, Lord Jesus.

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