Mr. Rice was a close friend of my grandparents and the local elementary school principal way back when. He’d often stop by their home for a quick visit, to the delight of my grandparents. My reaction as a seven year-old, however, was quite different. I’d make a run for the bathroom, lock the door, and sit on the edge of my grandparent’s pink tub until I heard his old pick-up crank. He was as nice as they come, but he had a habit of pinching my cheeks so hard they’d leave marks on my face for minutes. His pinches spelled P. A. I. N. and I wanted no part of them. 

Yesterday morning, I turned the radio off, peeled back the roof and talked with the Lord on my way to church. At one point, when asking for forgiveness, the word “lazy” spilled from my lips. It caught me off guard. So much so that I proceeded to say “Well, I don’t know if that’s the right word or not, Lord. I hope it’s not.” 

Fast forward about an hour. 

Our pastor, Jason, was speaking PREACHIN’ on discipleship. It was the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject and we’re only in our first week of the series! At one point, when sharing why some lack the transformation desired in their lives, he asked Could it be that you’re simply lazy? (I can’t quote it verbatim because I was too busy thanking the Holy Spirit for making it perfectly clear that I HAVE been lazy in certain areas of my walk with the Lord.) It’s not something I wanted confirmed, but I desperately needed a pinch of clarity and conviction. 

Like Mr. Rice, the Holy Spirit’s pinches can unleash a sharp pain. Not physically, but spiritually. His pinch, however, always spells L.O.V.E.—even when it hurts—for His pinches also leave a mark. An indelible mark. The mark of Christ. 

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…
Hebrews 12:6
The gospel is not opposed to effort [spiritual disciplines, serving, etc.] but it is opposed to earning