Monday, December 31, 2012

Gentleness instead of a "Whuppin'."

Good Evening Dear Ones - Happy New Year!  What a wonderful holiday season.  Frank and I spent Thanksgiving with "my people," and Christmas with "his people," (Frank's terminology). For New Year's Eve and Day, we are at home with each other - right where we want to be.

Frank and I are so blessed, and there is not one blessing in our lives about which we can boast.  We have done nothing to merit God's grace and goodness, but we are oh so grateful and humbled at His great love for us.

I have started about five different blogs over the past two weeks.  I have had many thoughts about the Lord and His word, and yet, I have had the most difficult time getting my thoughts together.  I just couldn't seem to get clarity on anything to say.  

Now, for those of you who know me well, you realize there is definitely something "turble" ("terrible" for those who need translation), at work for me to have trouble finding something to say.

I began praying, asking specifically why I was struggling, finding no clarity, and why my thoughts seemed forced.  I asked if there was anything in my heart I didn't know about - or knew about and hadn't taken seriously.

BINGO! That last question was the winning ticket.

I had something in my heart that my Heavenly Daddy had been speaking to me about for a few weeks.  I realized what it was the minute I asked Him to search my heart and point it out to me so there was no way I could miss it.

Have you ever experienced someone saying something to you, and you hear it; but it doesn't register with you for a few seconds.  I hope I am not the only one to whom that has happened; but I have literally taken a few steps, maybe gone around a corner and stopped, realizing someone had spoken to me, and I hadn't responded.  I "heard," but I didn't "listen" until later.

That's what I had been doing - hearing, but not listening as the Lord gently prodded me about what I was harboring in my heart.

Do you know what struck me as amazing about the Lord showing me my sin?  It was the way He did it.  When I finally "listened," I remembered His sweet nudge, gentle reminder, patient repeating of the nudge, firm but kind rebuke, His patient endurance at my ignoring Him.

Think of that.  The God of the universe is speaking through the Holy Spirit to my heart, and I'm ignoring Him.  Though He is all powerful and had the right to do so, He didn't condemn or demand.  He persisted in His pursuit of this disobedient child with patience and gentleness.

That's what rings true to my heart - gentleness - being considerate, kind, tender, and compassionate.  I am in awe of the character of Jesus and so convicted at my lack of gentleness at times when I probably need it the most.

His gentleness and goodness brought me to repentance (Romans 2:4).  In I Cor. 4:21, He even asks the question, "Now which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of correction, or with love and in a spirit of gentleness?"  

I read a sermon by Paul Fritz on gentleness that left me with two challenges: 
  • to ask the Lord to help me exhibit greater trust and obedience to the Lord with the same spirit of Godly gentleness that He bestowed upon me; 
  • and to ask the Lord Jesus to help me respond with the utmost courtesy and respect to others since He has given me the privilege of representing Him with His truth. 
Parents, are you gentle in your pursuit and correction of your children?  Husbands and wives, do we treat each other with gentleness? Those of us in leadership - are we gentle with those who look to us for guidance, support, instruction? Do we remain gentle, giving the truth without condescension (Gal. 6:1)

Gentleness doesn't mean weakness.  You can release someone from a job, initiate difficult conversations, or speak a truth that is difficult to hear and do it all with gentleness.  

My prayer is that I will demonstrate the wonderful fruit of the spirit, "gentleness," in every relationship I have - including the one I have with myself. 

Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to me in a spirit of gentleness, instead of a rod of correction.  We called that a "whuppin'" when I was growing up; and believe me, I remember it.

Still approaching every day with joy...and approaching the Throne of Grace with humility and gratitude, asking for gentleness so that I can demonstrate the sweet spirit of Jesus.  

P.S. Listen - Do you hear it?  The trumpet sound?  Be listening, don't miss it. How glorious it would be to see Jesus face-to-face this year.  I would touch that sweet face.  OK - I have to stop.  I will write about that another day.  Love you all so much.  Mecca