Earlier this week, I met with one of the most amazing men I know. His name is Terry Smith. I've known Terry for years and I am so thankful that God placed him in my life when He did. He is truly like a father to me.
I shared a great deal of my story with Terry, as well as what's been on my heart most recently. After the ways in which God has spoken to me through Terry, to call this man an inspiration would honestly be an understatement. He has had such an impact on my life.
During our conversation, Terry looked at me and said, "Emily, there's one word I want you to remember that truly describes who God really is." I responded with a look of curiosity and he answered, "Gentle. God is gentle."
He pointed me to Matthew 11, where God is revealed through His Son.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29, NIV)
Out of all the words that God could have used to reveal Himself, He chose gentle.
I wonder why.
Perhaps it's because we're too afraid to face God after we've sinned.
Perhaps it's because our understanding of God is wrathful.
And with these things in mind, perhaps it's because God wants us to change our false understanding of His true character.
My understanding of God growing up was that if I sinned, He would be far from happy with me. If I messed up, I would have to immediately repent and pay for my consequences however God saw fit, or I was going to hell.
But then I really thought about it. Why would I want to serve a wrathful God who is constantly waiting for me to mess up? If the God I serve isn't merciful and loving, then what's the point?
Let me tell you something. That's not who God is.
Our God is gentle. He is understanding. And He accepts us as we are. And as seen in Matthew 11:29, He even tells us this Himself. He longs for us to understand. The last thing God desires is for us to be afraid.
We should fear God not out of intimidation, but in such a way that produces love. The fear of God is about an earnest respect that recognizes Him as unfailing and infallible. It's about loving and faithfully trusting Him in every circumstance, with our hands in His.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10, ESV)
Of course it hurts God when we sin, but that's only because He wants the best for us. He knows our full potential; He blessed us with it.
But, when we do mess up- and we will- God understands. And He forgives.
This is who God is.
Let's back up to the beatitudes in Matthew 5. In this chapter, we learn of one of the most beautiful blessings that God pours over us. Here again is something else that shines with His gentleness.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:3, NIV)
To be poor in spirit is to realize that nothing we have is worth more than the kingdom of God. It is the understanding that anything that hinders us from receiving the kingdom is exactly what we are to empty our lives of.
I once sat on a curb with a homeless woman. She had three oranges in her hands. It was the only food she had for the day, or maybe even that week. She handed me one of those oranges and blessed me. She blessed me. And she told me the only thing that kept her going was God, because He was so good to her in every circumstance. She had the vision that many of us don't. She saw God's gentleness and how He cared for her, and she embraced it with every fiber of her being.
Ladies, all of us were born in the image of God and we are called to reflect this image. What we need to keep in mind is that the image is a gentle one.
Nothing is as strong as gentleness, and nothing is as gentle as real strength.
Get in the routine of practicing gentleness. Circumstances will certainly arise where you are faced with whether or not to show gentleness. Showing it isn't always easy, but when these circumstances appear, remember that no matter what you've done- no matter how bad you've messed up- God has always chosen gentleness. And He always will.
Practice, obtain, and reflect, ladies.
“I choose gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.” - Max Lucado