Not long ago I was standing in line at the grocery store, just doing the usual routine, transferring my things from cart to conveyor belt, when immediately behind me, in a tone that drew everyone's attention from all around, a young girl began back talking her mother in a most harsh and disrespectful way. I'm a simple Southern girl, okay? So forgive me if I still hold to the code of conduct that says honoring your parents applies to everything from Sunday manners to shopping trips. This little smarty-pants really got under my bonnet.
It wasn't the mother in me but just the fellow human being who wanted to spin her around, grab that young lady's chin in my hand, squeeze her sassy lips a bit tightly, and tell her that giving an apology to her mom right now might -- might! -- convince me to let go and return to being a nice, generic stranger in the shopping line.
Actually, only one thing kept me from doing it: this girl wasn't my child. Lack of relationship made all the difference.
I'm sure you've watched other people getting away with all kinds of careless, self-absorbed behaviors. You've watched in astonishment as they've refused Christ as Savior, giving themselves over to sinful lifestyles without a seeming care that they might be doing something wrong.
Perhaps you've secretly wished you, too, could live with such a pleasure-based, unexamined attitude toward life. You've wondered why God seems so relentless in keeping the pressure on you, why every minor lack of surrender is met with Biblical admonishment, why you can't just not care about being so spiritually responsible all the time, like when you're out to dinner, out of town, or otherwise off-duty.
Well, there's a very good reason: because you are His child. And our Father disciplines His children (see Hebrews 12:7). His involvement in your affairs is a revelation of His affection and relationship with you. And if you'll listen and respond to it, not only will you stop considering His correction a curse to be endured, but you'll see Him turn it into a blessing before He's through. The site of storm clouds in your life is an indication of His love for you, His desire to see you steered back in the direction of His will. Because, let's face it, His will is always our best place to be – not free of challenge, necessarily, but free of those discouraging nights and weekends when we feel like we've wasted our lives on nothing. Being true to His purpose sets us up for a life of lasting meaning.
You may feel like God is spoiling your fun, but He's actually saving your skin. The worst thing in the world He could do to you (and me) is to do nothing while we're out there doing our dead-level best to get away from His will. So "do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers" (Psalm 37:1). He's on to you because you are His beloved.
Priscilla Shirer appears this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer. ©2011 by Priscilla Shirer. Published by B&H Publishing Group, Nashville TN. Reprinted and used by permission.