Stand there and take your medicine!
The red-headed lady who raised me wasn’t done with the scolding yet, but she could no longer make herself heard over the blubbering. The words had an effect, if only for a moment, as the little towhead tried to work out in his head what kind of horrible-tasting medicine she was going to force down his throat.
The moment passed. It was only another of her sayings, a mini-parable describing the situation.
I’ll admit it: I’ve always been something of a crybaby. Perhaps it was because crying seemed to deflect scolding—or punishment. My brother and I once thought we had figured a way to make our dad’s spankings less severe. We would begin to cry early in the process and amplify the noise with every swat.
It didn’t work.
Still, discipline always—from my earliest days—brought out the whine-factor. And, since I earned—seriously, I worked tirelessly for them—so many sessions with the belt or paddle, I learned how to mope and cry better than most.
It’s a life-skill which has served me well. Perhaps, not served me well, but it has been trotted out with some frequency over the years.
I would tell you I haven’t had a whipping for many years, but it wouldn’t be true. Oh, no one has hit me with a paddle or strap, but discipline has come even so.
While we draw breath, lessons are learned the hard way. For some of us anyway, it’s the only way we remember the principles.
The Preacher suggested that God disciplines the ones He loves, just as a father does for the child he delights in, the boy or girl he is teaching to become a mature adult. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
But, what if—what if—the events we imagine to be discipline are nothing more than stops on the way to maturity? Could it be the things I’ve been moaning and whining about are simply bridges to be crossed, milestones to be left behind as the finish line draws ever nearer?
A young man—somewhat wiser than I—sat across the table from me in the restaurant the other day and made a surprising statement.
This past year has been quite a successful one for you, hasn’t it?
I looked at his face quickly to see if he was joking. He wasn’t—the sincerity in his voice mirrored in his features.
I picked up my glass of water to draw from the protruding straw. I wasn’t thirsty; it was just a delaying tactic.
This could take a minute.
I wanted to argue. I wanted to say it had been one of the worst years of my life. But, in that tiny interlude in which I stopped to think, the truth dawned.
Another epiphany. Well? It is still the season, is it not? Why should not the time when we consider the coming of The Light be a time in which we become aware of other beacons of truth we have missed along the way?
In the time it took to take that drink, my mind ran through the year just past.
Every step—every stumbling, plodding step—has brought me a little closer to being the person He wants me to be.
It hasn’t been pleasant. In fact, there’s still a bitter taste in my mouth as I look back.
But, it’s been good medicine. Medicine which has had its intended result.
The young man isn’t wrong.
Call it discipline; call it a growth spurt. We never choose those, but they are necessary for life to continue.
I remember the horrible taste of cod liver oil in my mouth. I still recall the sting of Merthiolate in an open cut.
I lived through them and thrived.
I stood and took my medicine.
We still need to grow more. God has plans for how to make that happen. He knows the plans. They are for our good and not to hurt us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Stand there and take your medicine.
Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.
(from “War and Peace” ~ Leo Tolstoy ~ Russian author ~ 1828-1910)
Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
(3 John 1:2 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2018. All Rights Reserved.