“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:4-7
Last night as I was reflecting on this verse and preparing for some silent prayer, I was recalling three words I had scrawled in magic marker on pink construction paper six years ago in Puerto Rico: kindness, patience, gentleness. That pink swatch of construction paper served as a bookmark in my Bible for many years, reminding me of God’s greatness and my own weaknesses. You see, kind, patient, and gentle are three things I was not (and probably still am not), but three things that I had committed to praying for, to becoming through God’s work in me.
It is quite recently, however, in this past year, through weekly talks with a soul friend of mine, that I have been learning that truly experiencing God’s grace requires dealing gently not only with others, but first with oneself. After all, how can I impart grace to others if I do not embrace that promise of grace first myself?
Reading through my devotional last night, it reminded me that a prayer word in silent prayer serves as a gentle way of coming back to God. “Free from thinking,” J. David Muyskens writes, “we enter a profound rest.”
It is a small thing, but I recalled a moment during yesterday when I was genuinely fatigued, but I couldn’t figure out a way to rest. I felt convicted that I should have been doing something, and so I was restless, which I am becoming convinced is an unnatural state for humans created by a God who made a day for rest! A friend of mine also recently sent me this article on clergypeople who are not taking time to rest, and for whom it is causing great consequences.
It sounds simple, but I think learning to rest, and being gentle, are two qualities which usher in the fullness of the humanity for which God intended for us.
In what ways do you resolve to deal gently with yourself, and how does it bring you nearer to experiencing God’s peace?