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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The blessed pain of discipline

I started working out on Friday, for real.  I mean the weight-lifting, elliptical-jogging, crunch-doing working out.  My lovely and athletic friend Ruth offered to give me some pointers and be my workout buddy.  She really knows what she's doing and I'm very thankful for her guidance and instruction!!

I'm one of those people with a slim but very not-athletic build; I've always been more sedentary.  I like walking but this kind of working out is very new for me.  As a result, I'm using muscles that don't often get used, and I'm feeling it!  Saturday morning my abs hardly wanted to work, and I've been walking painfully the last couple days after a lower-body workout on Monday.

I knew this would happen; since I haven't been very active before I knew that any amount of real exercise would hurt at first.  I also know that in a couple weeks I'll be more used to it and a lot less sore.

I keep reminding myself that this pain is a good thing.  It means I'm working my body, making it stronger and healthier, and Ruth said today that my abs already look more toned.  I have to keep pushing myself, but the results in the long run will be totally worth some sore muscles now.

Discipline was like that when I was little.  Now I'm disciplining myself to work out, but a decade ago it was my parents instructing me to do and not do certain things, and there was punishment when I didn't obey.  It hurt and it was inconvenient: spankings, time-outs, groundings, depending on my age and the severity of the disobedience.  But I learned what I needed to and I was a better person as a result.  (Yep, Mom and Dad, it worked...you can say "I told you so" now. :) )

Funnily enough, God puts discipline to work the same way.  Have you ever noticed that the root word of discipline is disciple?  As in, a person who follows someone else to learn from them and behave like them?  What a concept!  When God disciplines us, he is treating us as his disciples: helping us to learn from him and behave more like him.  God disciplines us because he loves us.  No, God does not cause "bad" things to happen to us.  He allows us to go through difficulties and trials because he always uses them for our good and his glory.  I have learned so much about trust by living on not a lot of money.  I have learned patience through illness.  I have learned to rely on God for comfort and help when I'm scared and sad.  I have learned to give control over to God when it seems like my life is out of my hands.

Discipline hurts, certainly.  No one likes the pain and frustration and discomfort of trials and difficulties.  But it's a good pain, one that God uses to bless us richly!!

I'm thankful for my aching muscles that are growing and strengthening.  I'm thankful that God loves me so much to use the good and the bad times in my life to help me become more like him, and grow closer to him in faith.

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