18 April 2008


When I first began the Living Beyond Yourself bible study series a few months back, I can honestly say that the week I was most looking forward to was week 8, the week on gentleness. God first really began speaking to me about gentleness last summer, when I taught my first ladies' Bible study at church on Colossians 3. In one of the French commentaries I read several months back, it was mentioned that a big part of God's business is "crafting (as a master artist works his craft) gentleness" into our lives, because a big part of biblical gentleness is a teachable spirit, one willing to learn of God. I started praying then that God would teach me about gentleness, that He would make the gentleness of His Spirit a characteristic of my life. I know I've got so much still to learn about gentleness, and the methods He's chosen to teach me are not what I myself would have picked, but I hope and pray He is molding my heart into a teachable one that desires nothing but Him.

I remember the first time I ever heard someone teach on gentleness - and being surprised that it wasn't exactly what I imagined. In Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore includes a detailed description and then a beautiful "word picture" of what gentleness is:
1) Gentleness (praotes is the original Greek word) is an "inward grace of the soul, calmness toward God in particular. It is the acceptance of God's dealings with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him."
2) One of her daughters had allowed a huge tangled knot to grow in her hair, because each time she tried to comb it out herself, it hurt. Finally the knot got so big and so tangled, the girl called for her mother to help her. Beth writes:

I sat down beside her...and began to brush - one hair at a time! I tried to hold her hair as tightly as I could so that she would not feel it pull, but finally the knot was too close for me to fit my hand between it and her head. The tears streamed down her cheeks. I asked, "Do you want me to stop?" "No, Mommy. If you do, I'll never get it out. Keep brushing." It took us many minutes to get through those tangles, and those minutes seemed like hours. Totally submitted to untangling the mess she was in, she rested her head in my lap and endured the pain. Her tears were not those of resistance. They were tears of submission: knowing that the end was worth the means.

Maybe this word picture speaks to me so much because in our house, we've got 4 heads of long, blonde thick hair - and we don't have the luxury of conditioner every time it is washed. I've spent more minutes than I want to count untangling "rats' nests" (that's what my mom used to call them), unwrapping expired rubber bands, unwinding braids - while the child in question submitted gently or not so gently to what had to be done. The process moves along much more quickly, with fewer tears and less frustration on my part when the child sits still and quiet, allowing me to do what needs to be done. On the other hand, if the child in question decides to do a drama queen routine, crying and wailing, little siblings will come running to see what all the ruckus iss - making it impossible for me to work. If she does not sit still, turning her head, grabbing my hands, the brush or comb, wrapping her arms around her head in a self-protective gesture... it just lengthens the process and sometimes achieves nothing more than making the tangles worse.

When I picture God untangling the messes, knots and yucky places in my life, this word picture helps me to see exactly what my position and attitude should be before Him - I should rest from my typical resistance, and allow Him to do whatever it is that He deems necessary... with no strings attached. Unfortunately, I quite naturally tend to avoid, move away or attach strings. Instead of thinking, "God, continue what you are doing here and right now and I'll submit," I add, "... just don't bring any difficulty or suffering or change in this area - only touch that part of my life in a way I'm comfortable with..." Rather, I need to seek a teachable heart, such as is described by Jeremiah -
As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
Jeremiah 26.14
Butterfly photo from JanLill Resources.

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