I've noticed that my daughter has started obeying her mother and me more quickly when we tell her to come to us. I think it has something to do with the fading whelps on her head.
You see, last week my daughter decided not to come to us when we called, and twice she paid the price. The first time, when I told her to come, she threw a tantrum and ended up banging her forehead on the floor at her grandparents. The second time, when her mother told her to come, she ran away while laughing at her, then wiped out and hit her nose and lip hard. Now she comes much more quickly -- not because anything we are doing differently, but because she's gotten a little taste of what the consequences can be when she doesn't obey us. As the bruises continue to fade, the lesson may fade, as well. But I hope not. I hope these are the worst consequences she ever faces for not coming to us when we call her. Because for a little child who runs away or refuses to come when called, the consequences can be far, far worse than a bump on the head.
It's very sad for me to see those bruises on my daughter, but in a way I'm glad she got them (once I knew she was okay!) because I hope it means she won't have to suffer worse consequences before she decides to obey us consistently. My daughter's bruises made me think about the way in which we learn to obey God. Ideally, we will readily obey God, but let's be honest: even though we are being transformed by the Spirit of God, stubbornness, foolishness, and rebelliousness make more than their fair share of appearances along the way.
Sometimes God lets us suffer the consequences of our disobedience as part of our journey in learning to take obedience as seriously as He does. Often, however, God keeps us from experiencing the full consequences of our actions. We might get a scare or a jolt when we think the consequences are going to be worse than they turn out to be. We might suffer a little pain -- whether physical or emotional -- as a deterrent to keep us from worse pain down the road. My daughter cried for a long time when she hit her head. It really hurt! But that pain was nothing compared to what could happen to her in the future if she refuses to come to us when we are calling to her. By God's grace I hope she never has to face those kinds of consequences as she continues to learn what it means to obey us, sometimes with a few painful consequences along the way.
So as you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, heed the lesson of God's gracious bruises -- those minor consequences and pains that force us to face the reality of our disobedience. If we refuse to learn from these minor lessons, it may take something far worse to get our attention down the road.