(Image via Facebook/Sarah Thomas Baldwin)
Have you heard about the revival that recently broke out at Asbury University? It began spontaneously with students not wanting to leave chapel after a routine service. A young man confessed his sin, students began worshipping, singing, repenting at the altar. Day and night for two weeks!
Marked by Gentleness
As I listen to various reports, people use words like “gentle” and “peaceful” to describe the Holy Spirit’s outpouring at Asbury. Gentle. What a beautiful facet of our Lord’s character. Gentleness is “the quality of being kind, tender, mild-mannered; it is softness in action or effect.” Its opposite is the quality of being hard, rough, or harsh.
A Gentle Savior
And doesn’t that describe the world we live in? This planet is a hostile place. And into this severe, unforgiving, off-key world, Jesus came. The Old Testament foretells a gentle Messiah:
- Say to Daughter Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey . . . ” (Matthew 21:5).
- He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:11).
- “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench . . . ” (Matthew 12:20).
Jesus invited people to come to him promising rest from their burdens and weariness (Matthew 11:28). First and foremost, our burdens of sin. And he said that if we take his yoke, in other words, bind ourselves to him, we will be trained in gentleness and humility because that is what characterizes him.
Professors at Asbury commented on how much Gen Z has been through and how touching it is to see the gentleness of the Holy Spirit with these young people. This generation, in particular, has been plagued by anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Truly “A bruised reed he does not break . . . “
The Lord knows our history, and he attunes perfectly to our needs. A friend of mine with a difficult past shared with me a dream she had once:
Jesus had come to take her to The Room. In his hand he held the skeleton key that she had buried so that he would not find it.
“No! No!” she cried out. “No, Jesus, don’t take me to The Room. I will die if I have to go there!” He began to walk toward the staircase that led to The Room. “Please, Jesus, no!”
Resistance was pointless. Standing outside The Room, she squeezed her eyes shut, terrified, as Jesus inserted the key and opened the door. Then she felt her hand in his, and he led her inside. The door clicked shut. This is how it ends. I’m surely going to die.
“Open your eyes,” he said softly. To her relief, the room was so dark she could see nothing. He struck a match and bent down to hold the flame near a small area that he wanted her to see. Then he blew out the light. That was all. He had not asked her to look at the whole room. Only one small thing.
And this she could survive.
It’s so like Jesus, this gentle kindness. Not making us look at all our sin or pain at once, but only casting light where healing needs to take place right now. Determined to help us grow, even if all we can handle is one tiny nudge.
Gentleness in Correction
The older I get, the more I am grateful for the Lord’s gentleness with me, especially with repeated offenses. When I say, “Lord, I’ve failed again. Same sin. You must be so frustrated with me. I’m frustrated with me!” he unequivocally brings 1 John 1:9 to mind. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When I say, “But how can you possibly be gracious like that? Forgiving again and again, the same stupid thing?” He says, “It’s my joy to be your sin covering. And I’m here to help. Let’s talk about what to do differently next time.” His gentle grace is simply astounding. And so encouraging!
How is it possible to find words to describe such infinite kindness, tenderness, and mercy? As the hymn says, “O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise . . .”