Letter 34: Discipline Leads to Joy

My Son,

 

I remember when I first started seriously reading the Bible when I was in 9th grade. I had gone to a camp that summer and they taught me the value of reading Scripture daily. After camp, I committed to follow a plan to read the entire Bible in a year. I began my journey with Scripture only to run into boredom. Toward the end of Exodus and into Leviticus, reading the Bible became a chore. However, since I had committed to my plan, I stuck it out. That whole year, the Bible remained stagnant to me. I then decided to read the Bible again a second year, and it was just as boring and just as burdensome to me that year. Stubborn as I was, I decided to enter into the discipline of reading the Bible a third year. Around halfway into my plan the third year, something changed for me. Reading the Scriptures switched from a chore to a treasure. I fell in love with Sacred Scripture. It came alive and my heart was set ablaze by the Word of God. Ever since then, reading the Bible has been a true joy. I tell you this, my child, because it took 2 ½ years of discipline to finally experience the fruit of that discipline. For you, reading Scripture may be instantaneous joy or it may take longer than 2 ½ years to experience that joy. Remain disciplined and form these godly habits and I believe you will reap a great reward whether in this life or in the life to come.

Being disciplined in the various practices of faith, such as praying, fasting, almsgiving, and reading, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture, is a test for genuine faith. Anyone can start a race, but how many can finish the race well? I’ve known many people who will make New Year’s resolutions to read the Bible in a year and when they hit Leviticus in the second or third month, they will give up. I know that when I had hit those books the first and even second year, I wanted to give up. If I had not remained disciplined, I would never have experienced the joy of Scripture reading. Honing your ability to maintain the disciplines of our faith is like starting a fire the old fashioned way. When starting a fire you take a couple of sticks and methodically move your hands to cause friction between the sticks and, eventually, the wood will start smoking and then a fire will form. It takes a while sometimes to start a fire this way and the only sure method involves time and discipline to move your hands in the right way. In the same way, it may take you years to see the fire of your faith set ablaze by the disciplines you’ve formed. The Holy Spirit will one day ignite the kindling you’ve invested in the fire and it will be all the more glorious.

We are in the “Church Militant” my son. Being a soldier of Christ requires discipline. There is wilderness before the Promised Land, there is crucifixion before resurrection, and there is discipline before joy. Stick with it! Do what others fail to do, and run the race in such a way as to win the prize.

 

Love,

Dad

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