I am unabashedly a daddy's girl. It is not that my dad had a lot of time to spend with me - he didn't. Rather, the time he spent with me was meaningful. Even when I had to be disciplined as a child, I knew that he still loved and accepted me.
I remember one time getting in trouble for riding my bike to MacArthur Park in spite of the fact that I had been told not to do so. MacArthur Park was the hang-out. It was the place where all the teenage kids and teenage wanna-bes went and played music, leaning coolly on their Camero Z28's talking to girls. It was the place I wanted to go.
I convinced my little brother, Vadrick, to come with me. Five years younger than me, he did almost anything I said. So we got on our bikes, and off we sailed.
Of course, I wasn't going to stay. I just wanted to ride through and be seen. I wanted someone to say, "I saw Karia riding through MacArthur Park on Sunday. Did you see her?"
I wanted a brief brush with cool.
We sped down the street together, stirring up the leaves from the tree-lined sidewalks. As we approached, I pumped my pedals harder, working up my speed so I could cruise effortlessly around the bend where I would make my grand entrance. The wind whipped my blue blazer as I floated through the sunny September afternoon. When I rounded the corner, I could hear the booming bass of the popular Marvin Gaye song resonating through the kid-packed park, "Let's get it on...oooh, baby. Let's get it on."
I glanced at Vadrick, "We are just going to ride through, okay?" "Okay," he replied.
I coasted across the grass, through the parking lot, around the park, and out the other side. As I disappeared into the neighboring white-fenced forest of blue and yellow houses I thought to myself, "Now I'm cool. I was at MacArthur Park. Everyone will know."
And everyone did know. Including my parents. The moment we walked in the door my brother announced, "Hey Mom, Dad! Guess where we have been? At MacArthur Park!"
Just like a little brother.
My mom looked at me with angry eyes. My dad rounded the hall doorway, and spoke in his daddy-voice: deep, penetrating, like a preacher.
"Didn't we tell you not to go there, Karia?"
"Then what do you have to say for yourself?"
"Alright. Well, have a seat. We are going to talk."
I hated those talks. They always preceded Daddy not sparing the rod.
But there was mercy in the rod. The mercy was that, before I received it, I knew exactly why it was coming. The second mercy was that it never lasted longer than was necessary for me to get the point. And the final mercy was that I learned to be a young lady who did not need to follow the crowd.
Daddy's discipline spoke to me, "Karia, this is where you belong. Your reference point is here. The rules you must obey are here. You are mine, and I love you."
Have you ever experienced the loving hand of God's discipline? Are you experiencing it right now?
Maybe you have made a critical mistake, and you are suffering the consequences of it. Maybe you are worried about tomorrow, because your yesterday and your today do not express faith in God. You are still repeating the same mistakes that got you into this mess.
The Scripture says, "Whom God loves, He disciplines" (Hebrews 12:6). And again God's Word says in Proverbs 3:12, "For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom He delights." If you are in the midst of divine discipline, know that He is doing it because you belong to Him, because He loves you too much to let you go your own destructive path.
Where is your McArthur Park? Where is the place in life where God has told you not to go, but where you would like to go anyway? Is it divorce court? Is it a second date with that wonderful guy? Is it the loan department of your local bank? Is it happy hour at the hotel bar? Stay away from the places God has told you not to go. He He has given you these limitations because His plan for your life excludes hanging around in places which may be harmful to you, or with people who do not honor His standards.
God disciplines you, just like my father disciplined me, because He wants His best for you. You are His beloved daughter. Before the world began He lovingly fashioned you, knowing the path your life would take, and He loves you too much to let you fall from His glorious design. Ephesians 2:10 proclaims our divine identity, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." The Greek word "workmanship" has the same root as the English word "poem." It refers to a creation of some sort, a work of art; a masterstroke of brilliance.
In the mind of God, you are a creation far greater than Leonardo da Vinci's striking portrait Mona Lisa or Maya Angelou's poem Phenomenal Woman. You are a masterwork more lovely than the Eiffel Tower of Paris and Rotterdam's Swan Bridge. When the wind adorns your hair, the majestic plains of Africa pale in comparison to your beauty. The Grand Canyon lacks the depth to search your soul. You are a crowning creation; you are God's Picasso.
My dear sister, take delight in God's design for you, accepting His discipline, so that you can truly become the woman He intends for you to be.
KARIA BUNTING (Dallas Theological Seminary; Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary; University of Texas) is an expository Bible teacher and the founder of Focused Forward Ministries. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University and teaches a weekly Bible study at her church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. Karia and her husband, George, live in Dallas and have three children.