Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rod of Correction

I’m so glad you stopped by! Today’s post turned out to be more of a book, so grab a cup of coffee, a comfy chair, your favorite slippers, and your bible, because this is gonna to take a while.

As I’ve thought and prayed lately about my son and the struggle we are walking in (you can read a little about that here), one verse has consistently came to mind:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. -Proverbs 22:15

In the past, I went to this particular word often. Lately, as I reflect on my son’s younger days, I recall having to physically discipline him day after day after day. For longer than I care to admit, there was not one single day that the physical rod was not used on my son’s rear-end. Wherever we went, the rod went. It was horrible, but it was consistent, done in love (most of the time), and it worked! Even my son knew it worked, as he would tell me at times that he needed to be placed back under God’s umbrella of protection by receiving some discipline. (Here is a blog post I came across that explains this concept, originally taken from TeddTripp’s Shepherding A Child’s Heart.)

 There came a time that we slowly ceased using that rod as discipline. Part of the reason is because he was learning obedience and didn’t need it as often. Another reason was because our foster children came to live with us, and since we were unable to discipline them in a way that utilized anything physical (believe me when I say this may have been the most difficult issue of my life), we resorted to other methods such as time-outs. As time went on, I found myself sending my son to ‘time-out,’ something we hadn’t previously done with our children. Eventually the physical discipline disappeared altogether.

Now my son is ten, and the years of physical discipline have passed. To use the rod at this point would only produce in him frustration, humiliation, and eventually bitterness and a hardened heart. As Proverbs 22:15 repeatedly came to my mind without fail throughout this past week, I kept disregarding it, thinking it simply didn’t apply any longer to the discipline of our children. However, I finally decided to seek God and the scriptures for an understanding of the rod as it pertains to my children, and I was drawn to the story of Moses.

In Exodus, Moses converses with God at the burning bush, when God informs him that he is to return to Egypt and release the Israelites from bondage. Moses responds by asking what he’s supposed to do if the people don’t believe he was sent by God (Ex 4:1). This is when God points out the rod in Moses’ hand, turns it into a serpent , back into a rod, and then proclaims “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Ex 4:5).  This spoke to me in such a powerful way! The purpose of the rod in this situation was to make known who God is, and the authority He placed in Moses.

In chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, and 14, Moses and Aaron are commanded to use the rod for one purpose: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ex 7:17). After the Israelites are freed from the bondage of Egypt, we find them complaining of thirst in the desert. God sends Moses with the rod before the people to strike a rock, which springs forth water for all to drink (Ex 17:1-6). Moses is instructed on a later occurrence to again take the rod and go with Aaron before the people. This time however, God tells him to simply speak to the rock. Instead, Moses loudly proclaims the Israelites to be rebels and rather than speak to the rock, he strikes it not once, but twice, and water gushed from the rock, relieving the thirsty Israelites (Num 20:7-12).

This too spoke strongly to me regarding the rod and my children. I’m beginning to see the rod as more than just a physical device of discipline. God used the rod to show Himself to His children and to proclaim the authority He bestowed upon Moses as their leader. There were times for striking with the rod, and there were times for simply speaking the words of God. Yet, while Moses was to merely speak, he never ceased to bear the rod- the authority of God over the people. Could the rod of correction at times be the Word, which is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16) and spoken by the one holding God’s authority in another’s life?

The use of the rod must be backed with purpose and that purpose is to gently restore my children in their relationship with God, with me, and with others (Gal 6:1). Yet, I am an imperfect parent, and I fall short. However, even when I misrepresent the Lord to my children, and abuse the authority He has given me, as Moses did by striking the rock, God continues ministering to my children and providing for my children just as He did for the children of Israel. And just as Moses received a sever consequence (not leading the Israelites into the Promised Land) I too will be unable to receive God’s promises in my life, unable to lead my children in areas of blessing.

So how does Proverbs 22:15 and the use of the rod apply to me and my children? How do I take this word and use it in our home? I compiled a list of ten applications:

1. Don’t be surprised or caught off guard by my children’s foolishness and sin (Pro 22:15)
2. Remember that sin is a heart issue and things take time to ‘unbind’ (Pro 22:15)
3. Feed my children the word of God at all times and believe God for who He is (Deut 6:7, Num 20:12)
4. The way of discipline looks different for each child and in each season of life (Ex 17, Num 20)
5. Take my role of authority seriously, leading by example, and not abusing that roll (1 Pt5:2-3)
6. Be quick to confess to my children and ask forgiveness when I fall short (Matt 5:23-24)
7. Be gentle during times of discipline, always purposing to bring reconciliation (Gal 6:1, Matt 5:24)
8. Be aware that harsh discipline has the potential to provoke my children to wrath (Eph6:4)
9. Don’t misrepresent God to them (Numb 20:12)
10. And, of course, Pray with and for them (Col 4:2)

Well, that sums up today’s novel. What are your thoughts on the rod and discipline, specifically for those children who are beyond the years of physical discipline?

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me –Psalm 23:4

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  1. Hi Stephanie,
    Love your post, I am going to copy the 10 applications if you give me permission, they would really help me remember my motives when I come across days like these. My children are still small so I can't really relate to you as a mom, but I can relate to your son. I was (and still struggle sometimes) a rebellious child...I don't know if this helps in any way, but one thing my parents did when I disrespected them was to sit me down when things where calm and have loooooong talks with me asking me how I would like to be disciplined. I was supposed to think and analize the situation, how did we get there, what happened and what can we do about it...As a child I would have been a lot happier with the rod even in my high school years than having to face the truth of my rebellion. Just a thought...I understand that every child is created unique in God's image, but that's what worked for me.

    1. You bring up a great point that I neglected to include, Bianca. It is vital for our children to take time before their Lord and reflect on their actions and consequences for those actions. We've done this in the past and definately need to do it more! What a wonderful way to put that busy brain to GOOD use!

      Of course you are welcome to copy the list, modify it, add to it, make it fit your family's needs.

      Good to see you here, Bianca.

  2. I've had this lying open on my iPad for 2 days now, and I'm so glad I finally found time to read it today. This is a very strong post, and I'm really grateful for the way the Lord has spoken to you. I worked with preschoolers last semester when Id just graduated from high school, and I can so relate to what you say about time-outs. They don't usually work, especially at that age. Thanks for the reminder that parents have such a privilege and responsibility before the Lord to lead their children in love. I continue to pray for you and your son as you seek to correct his behavior; he is blessed to have you!

  3. I'm left so incredibly grateful by this post, I had to come back and tell you. I've always been a very critical/proud/argumentative person. I've always known I can look at a thing and see it often more clearly than my peers, but I've abused this gift so often to manipulate and challenge those in authority over me. I could tell you stories from not three years ago when my stubbornness and rebellion would lead to heated arguments or hurt feelings that could have so easily been prevented, both at home and outside the home. What you say about words of people in authority over us being like God's rod in our lives is so true! One of my dearest older friends and mentors told me repeatedly it had to stop, and I knew he was right but I would continue to be rebellious. Finally he threw it right at me and said that I acted like a child. This coming from someone i looked up to so much hurt more than I can say. It convicted me. But it still took a long time, and several more incidents, before I finally gave this up to God. My latest trial has been with college, me wanting to go one place and my parents wanting me to stay. The Lord let me believe my will was His will to teach me deeper submission. Finally, it was again that same friend's words, coupled with words from a lot of people saying they actually thought it might be better for me not to go, that convicted me. It's been a long journey, and my stubbornness is by far not cured; but I am so grateful for the hand of the Lord in my life and all the people He's used as "rods" for correction and for teaching me that the gift of a quick mind is just that: a gift, and not a reason for pride or obstinate insistence that we are always right. Like I said earlier, your son is so blessed to have you to be the rod in his life! He will be a great man for it some day. Thank you for being so open and honest in your posts! They're always an encouragement!

    Much love. =)

    1. I am so thankful for your prayers, Joy. I KNOW you and others are praying because I am already witnessing such a change in my son and in the way I respond to him, so thank you so much for remembering us and praying for us. Please don't let up!
      And I thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I am incredibly blessed to hear from those who have walked this path and come out the other side, with more wisdom and humility.
      Honestly, I had no idea you were so young, Joy, and I think this is the first time I've gotten a glimpse into who you were/are. Thanks for sharing, and for being real. I appriciate it more than you know!
      What a blessing to hear that God used those in authority over you to lead you, guide you, and help you to walk in the ways of the Lord.
      Yes, my son's quick mind IS a gift, let me remember to see it as that and to help him use it in a ways that bring glory to Christ. Thank you, Joy. You are a blessing!

    2. I'm really glad to hear that you're witnessing changes already. I will keep praying.
      Haha, yes I'm very young, both in age and in my walk with Christ. I came to faith at fifteen, almost three years ago (yes, that correspnds a little with my attitutde changes as well) and I live in an unbelieving family on the other side of the world from where you live. =)
      You're a blessing too!

    3. Wow, thanks for sharing! Only God can bring together people from different walks of life- different ages, cultures, backgrounds (although I did not grow up a Christian either). The other side of the world! WOW! (As an American, I assumed you lived in America. Typical American thinking.)
      I will definately pray for you and your family. It is difficult for anyone to walk the road of Christ alone. Praise God He has you in His hand!

    4. =) Thanks Stephanie. I'm so thankful for the way the Lord has chased me down and continues to take me and mold me through all the people He has placed into my life. I feel as though I haven't lived gratefully enough - it would never be enough, but He is so gracious!
      And I don't blame you for thinking I lived in America; I hadn't said anything. ;) I didn't think you hadn't grown up a Christian either. Are your parents believers?

    5. My mom is a believer, Praise God!
      I spent half of my life as an unbeliever walking in sin. That sin led to a daughter, which led to a marriage (just three months after graduating from High School), which led me to the realization that I was in desperate need of a Savior! God pursued me and my hubby who had been born a Jehovah's Witness. And here I am :) A serious work in progress! Haha!

    6. I meant to say 'raised.' My hubby was raised (not born) a Jehovah's Witness :)

    7. Wow! Thanks for sharing! I praise the Lord for the way He called both you and your husband to Himself. And look at you now, He has turned your life around and is leading you to raise a godly family. That is so beautiful!
      I was raised by a communist-turned-deist father and a an agnostic mother with a moderately Muslim background in Europe where the majority of people are either atheistic or agnostic from my experience. Then we moved back to my parents' homeland in the Middle East, I attended a Christian classical school, and I began really wrestling with things. My sophomore year of high school was in part a desperate run from myself and in part a desperate seeking for God. I have never desired anything so much! Then my uncle died, I finally gave my life to Christ, and things got really rough at home. I continue to pray for them, and I am really grateful for all that the Lord has taught me and continues to teach me and for all the brothers and sisters He has surrounded me with here. I am so blessed! Joy is a pen
      name btw. ;). Thanks for sharing your story, Stephanie!

    8. Wow,Joy! What a history you have! Here I thought I was getting to know you, and I had no idea :)
      You are a strong young lady who has been through so much, and God has used it ALL to bring you to Him and build you up. You have so much to offer others, and I am blessed to have you on my blog. I'm also blessed to be able to read all that you share.
      I will keep you and your family in my prayers :)

    9. Thank you Stephanie for your encouragement. That just made my day!

  4. Great post, Stephanie! I can see so much of this in my own parent's approach and it makes me that much more incredibly thankful for them. Not only for rearing me this way, but for giving me a prime example of the kind of parent I should be in the future.
    And, as Joy said, your son is blessed to have you! :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Exactly what I hope for my children to say someday! That they are THANKFUL for the choices we made as parents. Of course we mess up, and will continue to do so, but I hope we can all look back and have no regrets, only thankfulness for how God spoke to us, helped up walk in obedience, and used all the good and bad to bring glory to Him.
      Thanks for stopping by, Rachel.

  5. I remember people telling me when my kids were young that those were the 'easy' true! After reading Rose's post and then yours today, I'm glad God has us all in this season together so we can pray for and encourage one another! Thank you for your words sister.

    1. Oh how I wish I had realized those were the 'easy years.' No, I don't recall them being easy, and I don't think they were. Each stage has it's own struggles.... However, the current stage seems to require more brain work, since I am dealing with individuals who seem to be able to process things in a way even I sometimes can't.
      Yes, I am so thankful to have others that are walking this path with me and can relate with my struggles and failures.


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