All year long, I and my guests have been writing about the #Darkroom, an experience every Christian finds themselves in sooner or later. When I came to this series at the beginning of the year, I thought the Darkroom was simply a season God places a Christian in to get them ready to bear his image to the world. I just came across a text that has added a fullness to my understanding of the Darkroom.
“Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.”
This text challenged me. Could the Darkroom also be a punishment, a ‘time out’ God uses with His naughty children? I immediately began to ask God for deeper understanding.
What if God is not punitive by nature, as some believe He is? What if it is His desire is to bless and keep and save and love at all times?
Based on this premise, that it isn’t God’s delight to punish us, God showed me an alternative interpretation of this text in the Darkroom context.
A Different Perspective
God asked me to think about Baby Girl and Little Man. When I started parenting 13 years ago, my parenting style was that of my parents; punitive. You do something wrong, I punish you, and you learn not to do that wrong thing anymore.
Through my time as a parent, I learned that punitive parenting only trains my children to do what is right when I am looking or to please me, rather than because they see the benefit in making wiser choices. When I realized this, I shifted my parenting style. I decided to discipline my children instead of punishing them.
I decided to allow the consequences of their behavior to be their guide in their decision-making process. If they don’t clean their room when asked, then they can’t attend the party they want to go to on the weekend because that’s when they will be cleaning their room. Or perhaps they will be late to the party and miss a cool feature as a result.
That teaches them that if you put off things you should do now, you may miss out on things you want to do later. With that type of lesson, my children aren’t cleaning their rooms because their mom is going to punish them if they don’t. They are cleaning their rooms because they have learned it is better not to procrastinate. That is a lesson they can take with them that will bless them their entire lives.
Consequential discipline teaches people how to discipline themselves. So, what does all this have to do with our text?
A Good, Good Father
Well, sometimes we end up in a darkroom of our own doing. We walk out of God’s will and He chooses not to shield us from the consequences of our choices. He does this because He knows it will be the best way for us to learn self-discipline, the best way for us to gain insight into how good His thoughts, ways, and plans are for us.
When I chose to give of myself to the boys I loved without the commitment of marriage, God didn’t zap me with a punishment of them breaking up with me. He let me experience what happens when you place sexual intimacy in a context that cannot hold it.
Through my broken heart and relationships, I learned that sex is best in the context of commitment. But before I learned that, I sat in a dark of my doing because I “despised the plans of the Most High.”
This idea is corroborated by verse 17 in the same chapter. “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.”
God doesn’t zap us because we don’t go His way. The consequences of our sins place us in a state of confusion, regret, and failure because when we walk away from God, we walk out of the light and into a dark of our doing.
Check out Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father