I still carry it around. "It" is a piece of belt off some kind of farm machinery. My parents used it as the last resort in disciplining us as children. They only used it on our derrières, and very rarely at that. I remember how it stung. It probably seems odd that I should still be carrying it around after all these years. But it reminds me of the statement from Revelation 3:19: "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent."
In fact, the Scriptures mention God's discipline in several places., particularly in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 12:5: "And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you...'"
Hebrews 12:7: "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?"
Hebrews 12:8: "If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all."
Hebrews 12:11: "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
The Old Testament is full of examples of how the Lord disciplined His people, usually as a result of their rebellion, but sometimes to teach life lessons that needed learning. As Moses prepared Israel for their entrance into Canaan, he said this: "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you" (Deuteronomy 8:2-5).
It's true that discipline is not pleasant. but the writer to the Hebrews has it right when he said that the end result is a positive one for those who learn from the discipline.
Israel was to remember God's discipline. George Santayana (1863-1952), philosopher, poet, essayist is attributed with saying this: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Remembering God's discipline in our lives helps us to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past that led to the discipline. But above and beyond that, remembering that discipline reminds us of just how much God loves us. He cares enough to correct us because He really does want the very best for us, just as any good parent wants for his or her children.
I keep the strap because I am grateful for what is represented in the relationship that I had with my mother and father. It was an expression of love.