Lessons from the Woodshed
The woodshed is also a metaphor. It's true, I've been there many times over the past 65+ years and have always lived in suburbia. But, most of us get it, a picture of discipline. The Urban Dictionary says it is an allusion to being corporally punished. You know, getting a spanking. Few of us boomers escaped our childhood or teen years without having been at least to the verbal woodshed. I mean, a spanking is a spanking regardless of the instrument used. And, a verbal lashing was often worse than a real one. Even in senior-adult hood, there are still times in the woodshed. The past two weeks have been such times for me. The lessons learned there are profound.
There's a strong biblical case for discipline. Certainly being his disciple is a matter of discipline. Shoot, notice the similarity in the two words---disciple and discipline. Beyond the task of taking on the disciplines of Jesus in our personal lives, there's also plenty of Scriptural references to enduring the discipline of the Father as we navigate the troubled waters of culture. There's this "sonship" thing, a non-gender specific reference to God's children, and the expectation that God will discipline us like sons. Hebrews 12 is a dissertation about God's discipline.
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when
reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the ones he loves, and chastises
every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure.
God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does
There's more, of course. But the final verse of that section brings home the lessons of the discipline, what I'm calling lessons from the woodshed.
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.
Every day is momentous. If it's true that he is working in all things (John 5:17) then there's the reality of his hand at every turn in life. Still, there are occasions that register on a larger scale. These past two weeks may be that kind of tipping point in American culture. Giant headlines mark significant shifts that have occurred in just a matter of a few days---
1. The brutal, racially motivated murder of nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in
Charleston, SC, that has inflamed the racial tensions of a sharply divided nation.
2. Two momentous decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States that have
divided the country and affirmed a direction for the nation in ways only hinted by
previous SCOTUS decisions.
They have indicated something unique about our times: racism is a deadly force in American culture; and, what has defined us as a nation has shifted from the vision that drove our founders to create us.
We all stand on every possible side of these critical issues. I have my own opinions and have pretty much seconded them to a desire that the nine murdered souls could be buried in peace and their families could be spared the vitriol of such emotion shattering opinions. More than my own personal take on any of the issues, the past two weeks have, however, been woodshed time for me. And, If I am not being trained by them, as indicated in Hebrews 12:11, then my sonship may be in question (see Hebrews 12:8). What are these lessons?
1. My own prejudice and bias clouds the issues.
2. My own role in marriage often falls short of the biblical model.
3. My life isn't in the world, it's in a bubble.
OK, kids! I know life isn't about me and that each of those woodshed items begins with the first person possessive of the un-holy trinity of me-myself-and I. At the same time, it is the beginning point of my decisive self, my starting place for societal influence. In this instance the word "my" is a personal claim to three important elements of this woodshed experience. They cannot be shifted to you, blamed on anyone else, or softened by the comparatives that typically ease personal accountability. They are the sole proprietorship of moi, my-myself-and I. That's an affirmative, the thought that many of us can somehow feel the personal weight of these times. I know I'm not so special to be the only claimant in this category. But, they are the take-away elements of the past two weeks that have landed heavy on me.
I've a suspicion that life truth lands on most of us as well, especially those living as sons of the Father. Like me, you're most likely dealing with some discipline issues related to what's been in the headlines in recent weeks as well. Usually when significant things happen I talk too quickly or allow things to simmer till I'm angry, bitter, and resentful, to mention a few. Either case is an additional prayer rail event, not counting the woodshed items. So, they're on my personal plate this week, and will be the fodder for my blathering the rest of the week.
Sunday morning I sat in church with a heavy heart because events have taken me down a path I've been before and thought had revealed all the warts in my personal make-up. Not so. These are fresh, new exposures made evident by all the stuff happening around me. And, now, he's dealing with me about them.
It's the woodshed. His woodshed. And, he loves us and gives promises about his discipline: "For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).
Tomorrow, bias and prejudice as the lens through which we view things.