and a rod for the backs of fools!
Some of you may recall from my other blog that our family is raising eight orphaned ducklings. They are a lot of fun, and they can also be a fair amount of work.
We have constructed a movable pen, so that they can be in different areas of our yards from day to day, and the wire play yard can be easily moved as well, to encompass their sand box "pool." (It seems that hanging on to things that the kids outgrew can be a good thing.)
Each day, they have two "outings" where they are free from the fence and can explore and graze. We supervise them, since they have no duckie mama to tell them what is and is not dangerous. With the help of our dog, who has herding instincts in her heritage, we gently herd them away from the densely wooded areas, away from the automobiles, etc., etc. One evening while I was trying to turn them back from the cars (don't want them to get too accustomed to cars; when they are turned loose on the lake, they will avoid the roads) I realized that this was similar to what God does with His children. He gives us opportunities to venture out, and be more daring, and try things that we've not tried before --- but always He is there, gently turning us back from what is dangerous.
Of course, when we don't heed the gentle guidance, that's when this verse comes into play!
Horses and donkeys start out in a herd . . . the ratio of cowboy (human) to horses may be as large as 1 to 50. It's the one-on-one time, the training, where there is one human and one horse, where the learning takes place. The horse learns to obey the bridle and the whip, to go where his human trainer wishes for him to go.
That should be what happens in our relationship with our Father -- He is far gentler at first; no bridle or whip is used. We can receive His guidance in our prayer time and in our study of His word. Our conscience can speak to us and we can follow.
If we are foolish, however, our Father's only recourse may be discipline. Solomon says in the verse above, that the fool must be chastened and taught by a "rod" applied to his back. Why is it that sometimes we refuse to learn, unless God chastens and disciplines us? It is more painful and more difficult. Why don't we learn our lessons?
It all stems from our former nature - that sinful self that Christ changed when he saved us -- and the constant battle between our old self and the new spiritual nature:
II Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And yes, it is a struggle -- check out Romans 7:15-25, where Paul tells us that he is frustrated because he keeps doing the things he knows he should not, and he is not doing the things he should.
Jesus knew we would experience this, when He said: "... the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
We need to try to heed Peter's instructions in I Peter 1:14 . . . As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
Peter knew what he was talking about, too, for he struggled with these issues. Let's be determined and pray to God to guide us; let's pay attention to the gentle guidance, and avoid the chastening and discipline if we can!