True wisdom comes from many sources, but is certainly unexpected from a fortune cookie!  Recently I opened my fortune cookie after a wonderful Chinese meal to find this nugget of wisdom:  Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.  Needless to say, this was an uncommon fortune, indeed.

It certainly caused me to stop and think.  I went on to eat my cookie, but have kept the wisdom.  I’ve carried the little piece of paper with me for weeks now, meditating on the truth it holds.

There is no denying that discipline can be a refining fire and can certainly refine many things in our character, our habits, and our talents.  By continual practice – discipline – we hone our talents so that it looks as if we have a natural ability.  The ability, however, is only natural, and looks easy, because we have put the hard work and discipline into making it so.  Nothing is easy and everything, even ability, comes with a price.

So, since discipleship comes from discipline, I began to think how our discipleship might be the refining fire that allows us the ability to look more naturally like the one we want to imitate.  Perhaps discipline within our discipleship is what will give us a mind like Christ; a heart like Christ; a manner and compassion like Christ; a servant attitude like Christ; and a willingness to give all we have for others, like Christ.

No wonder it takes a lifetime of discipleship to grow into Christ-likeness.  Any ability we have to do it comes through fire in the hard work of discipline.  Yet, the moments of grace in the lifetime of discipline will be what provides the grounding grace in the disciple.  Savor the moments of grace.

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