When I was a kid I had a habit of sassing. I didn’t get into too much trouble, except for my mouth. (That’s probably still true today) For punishment I’d get something taken away from me, most notably my bike or watching my favorite show (MacGyver y’all). I’d get sent to my room to cool off, and keep my mouth shut as well.
That was most often my mom’s form of punishment, although I did get popped on the behind a couple of times (and I turned out just fine thankyouverymuch). The taking away of stuff, of things that mattered. Sending me to my room. Confining me to myself, indoors, without the thing I loved so dearly-freedom. Choice. That amazing pink BMX Mongoose.
Because of actions that were within disciplining, I saw the removal of things I held as mine as punishment. It showed me that I wasn’t in control of those things, and they could be taken away if I wasn’t within the guidelines my mother had set forth on behavior. I think we all see when things are taken away from us that it’s a sort of punishment, an effect of our wrongdoing or misjudgement.
But I think we have it wrong. Or at least I do.
God loves you enough to strip anything from you that keeps you from Him.
So when things that we perceive as being taken from us as punishment is really God loving us so much more than we deserve. He sees that they are what is keeping us from Him, what’s distracting and denying fellowship and communion with Him. He wants the absolute, flat-out best for us that He would strip it away so we can be free to run to Him. To close that gap on that dusty road as the prodigal, as the heartbroken stooped in picking up the pieces. He instead scoops us up and pulls us in. He tears down that wall we built, and yanks out that relationship that was not what He intended for us.
Y’all I firmly believe that He takes away all the things from us not as punishment but as goodness. As love. As deliverance. As redemption. Yes, we get disciplined, but that job you allowed to become identifiable by what you did not by Him? He needed to remind you of who you are to Him, not what you did. It wasn’t punishment, it was love.
So we lose some skin on this thought, on this punishment that is not in reality punishment at all, but God loving us more than we can understand. It’s Him being good when there’s not much good in us, and seeing our need for Him is far greater than our need for the thing or person that is stripped from us.
I don’t know about you but when I come to see this in how He loves me, it makes for an easier transition of my control to His love.