Discipline is developed in a variety of ways in our individual lives. We have many people who influence us along the way. This can be either a positive or negative influence. A parent can encourage, support, and correct a child so that values are instilled in a positive and uplifting way. A teacher can inspire in a multitude of ways. An athletic coach can be a guide, a mentor, and someone who pushes us to reach our full potential physically, mentally, and emotionally. A pastor can preach, teach, admonish and exhort us to solid Christian living. All of these people of influence have the potential to impact us in some dramatic ways. However, the ultimate decision to act with conviction rests within each of us. Will we follow the guidance we receive? Will we work hard to accomplish the goals we want to achieve? Will we faithfully walk humbly with our God?
I was reminded of the word discipline today as my son achieved another milestone on his way to a particular goal. He wants to achieve a Black Belt in the martial arts. This morning he passed his test to become a Brown Belt. The coveted Black Belt is drawing ever nearer. It has taken years of practice and self-discipline to reach this level, and there is still much to achieve and master before earning that Black Belt. Self-discipline will be vital to complete the original objective my son set for himself eight years ago when he began this trek in the martial arts. (Relocation of the family and some other setbacks through the years have slowed the process, but the dream has never been squelched.)
Looking back at my younger years I also devoted a lot of time to achieving certain things in athletics. I had nothing to do with growing to be 6'8" tall. That was apparently God's design for me, but I will readily admit that it was quite helpful on the basketball court to be that tall. I also spent hours and hours practicing the fundamentals--dribbling, passing, shooting, defensive stances and moves, blocking out, and on and on. There were many times I wanted to quit, and a couple of times I did. Was it really a goal worth pursuing? Those are the decisions we each have to make. Ultimately, I played all the way through my college years, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and privilege to have had that experience.
There is one decision that should not be left to chance. That is our decision to walk with God. How are our "skills" developing in this arena? Are we growing as people of prayer? Do we faithfully study the Sacred Scriptures and pray with them? Do we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Jesus? We can't be wimps. We need stamina; we need perseverance; we need courage; we need faith; we need hope; we need God's grace. Are we sincerely seeking to be equipped for the journey? These are questions we each have to answer for ourselves.
Congratulations Joe on achieving Brown Belt status. Let the discipline of the martial arts overflow into the discipline of your spiritual life. Be steadfast and walk always as a child of the Light!