Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wisdom Wednesday: Punishment and Restoration

Hey gang!

It’s Wednesday, middle of the week again, already! We have been discussing the book of Ecclesiastes and would be on Chapter 5 today. However, I’ve been thinking about something and it has started to a thought. I know, sometimes you think I should let those go. But today, it’s a good one.

For those of you that don’t know or haven’t been following along, One Man Revival has been doing a Bible study of the entire book. Well, we are now in the back half of the Old Testament and have almost finished up the major prophets. If you read through, you will notice that a lot of information repeats between the prophets. Not word for word, but there is a theme.

The theme that keeps screaming through is this. God says, “Look Israel and Judah! You are really messing things up and I am going to punish you.” And he does. He exiles both the Israelites and the tribe of Judah for their repeated sins of worshipping other gods, marrying outside the group lines, making idols and so much more.

However, the other recurrent theme is this. God says, “You know, I have to punish you, but I will restore you and this time, you will listen better and be better people.” He brings both nations back home eventually. In the story of Ezra, the people of Judah come back and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. They also rebuild the Temple.

Let’s think about those themes. I have to punish you, but I will restore you so that you will honor me. There are a lot of people out there that think the Old Testament doesn’t speak to us today, but it really does.

How many times has your boss had to ride you down to keep you under the thumb, but later blesses you with promotions because you have become a better worker? How many times have we ever had to be that boss?

How many times do we have to punish our kids for their mess ups in the hopes that this correction will help them become better people with better jobs and better families than we had?

I remember my childhood. I was told all the time when I messed up, but I was given a reason that it would make me better.

When I was nine years old, I wanted to throw a curve ball in a game, but was told not to because my arm wasn’t ready to do it all the time. I did it once. I was immediately pulled off the mound. Even though it was a great pitch, my coaches knew that my arm hadn’t developed enough to make that pitch consistently and also warned me about the possibility of injuring myself if I kept it up. I did keep practicing it. Too much, in fact. I blew out my arm and my major league hopes and dreams were gone.

When I was in fifth grade, I didn’t like my teacher, Mrs. Nuzum. She was old, mean and to me, didn’t smell right. She was not funky fresh. That year, I got lazy. I quit doing my homework. My grades dropped and no one understood why. The next year, I ended up with Mr. Johnson. I loved the man. He was probably the best teacher I ever had, period. I worked hard. I was having the year of my life. He knew how to motivate me. That year, I went to Math Field Day, the county Spelling Bee and did decent in an essay writing contest. I didn’t win that, but I had a great year. But I went to the county Spelling Bee and missed a word to be eliminated. Truthfully, I don’t even remember the word that did me in. Why? Because I thought understood what was said and didn’t. I misspelled the word and then complained about how I got messed over by the judges. My principal, Mrs. Fragale, one of the finest ladies I ever knew, said to me, “There is no honor in being a loser that can’t accept his own faults.” That was harsh for a 12 year old, but if I had picked my ears instead of my nose once in a while, I would’ve been better. If I had only asked a question, I would’ve still been in. She was right. I had no right to complain.

There was this time that I let a rumor be spread about someone that I knew wasn’t true. The girl had no idea the rumor was there, but I felt guilty about letting it go on. Years later, after I had been through some of my own times of people spreading untruths, I called her to apologize. I didn’t do it gain recognition with her. Truthfully, she had almost forgotten who I was. But God prompted me to call her. Why? Because the person that had hurt the most from letting the lie go on was me. Not her. Not at all. God wanted me to be obedient and be a true friend to someone that tried to be one to me. God will allow the punishment, but he wants to restore us.

So I have some questions for you to ponder and think about. First, why do we do things that allow us to earn punishment from God? Do we really need to know that God is going to restore us after we submit to the punishment? Is that necessary and why do you think so or not? Finally, once we are restored, why do we want to go around the mountain more knowing the process of punishment and restoration?

I’ve given you my thoughts, share yours with me.

I love you guys!
Frank

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