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Time Out

Numbers 12:10a, 11, 13-14
When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. … And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned.” … And Moses cried to the LORD, “O God, please heal her—please.” But the LORD said to Moses, “… Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.”

On average, I wonder how many words parents speak to their kids per day and what percentage of those words come in the form of some disciplinary threat. I hope a pollster doesn’t show up at my house to begin the data analysis! The fact is children don’t grow in virtue without formal discipline, because that’s what discipline does: it forms us into better people.

I’ve discovered after only eight years of parenting that the days when I heave idle threats to Micah and Skye like, “You won’t get a treat tonight if you don’t stop fighting!” or “You won’t watch anymore Sonic if you disrespect mommy again!” or “You’ll go to your room if you throw another tantrum!”, without carrying through with it, are not productive for me nor constructive for them. They need time outs. They need to face the pain of going to bed without the usual popsicle. They need physical, emotional, tangible reminders that sin is not committed in a void but has repercussions on everyone around them. And so do I!

Numbers 12:10 reveals yet again the depths of God’s wisdom in discipline. Aaron pleads with Moses for mercy, and Moses, in turn, pleads with God for the same, and God lavishes it; yet His idea of mercy is long-term, while theirs is only momentary. He knows that Miriam needs a time out. She needs to get away from the noise of her routines to sit in solitary conviction. She needs a detox from the vain ambitions and bitter motives that got her there in the first place. And you and I know full well from our own experience that she comes out a better, more rejuvenated, more respectful child of God when it’s all over.

Friend, however the LORD is disciplining you today, measure the price of your travail against the prize of it! After all, what’s seven days of solitary compared to an eternity of communion?