The Fruit of Gentleness
The Beginning, Part 2, Character of God
Galatians 5:22 NKJV
I Kings 19:5-8 NKJV
Psalm 23:1 NCV
I Kings 19:9-10 NKJV
I Kings 19:11-12 NKJV
Exodus 33:19b-22 NKJV
Philippians 4:4-5 NKJV
I know I write quite a bit about being quiet before the Lord. One entire section of my website is dedicated to the Sacred Space so we can explore ways to spend quality time with God. Having said that, I know full well that what works for one person does not work for another. I also know how much I struggled to sit in God’s peace when I worked a full time job.
During my last twenty years of working, the jobs I had were all about “hurry up and stay busy every second.” I did know at the time that is not a healthy environment. If we could fast-forward 25 years into the future, I am certain we will find employers came to realized how detrimental that environment is to the workforce.
As it was, I asked God to show me how to survive the unhealthy environment I lived in. I learned how to utilize deep-breathing exercises that re-centered me. For one minute, with every breath I took I learned to breath in God and breath out stress. I still do that exercise today, but now I am not on a timer.
Another tool I used was to find a quiet spot (not an easy task with you work at a campus with 8,000 people) where I could meditate. Using my 15 minute break to relax was ever so helpful. I also believe in the future, employers will integrate meditation pods where people can spend time breathing, meditating, and re-centering. I believe they will find that it actually increases productivity because errors will be reduced.
However, when we look at scripture we find that trouble was no stranger to the prophets and the apostles. In 1 Kings 19, the Prophet Elijah was on the run from Jezebel. Things were so bad that Elijah fell into a deep depression. He was on the run and was tired and afraid. At one point, in verses 5-8, Elijah fell asleep under a tree. While he was sleeping, an Angel of the Lord came to him, woke him up, gave him food and water, and God told him He knew the journey he was on was too much for him. God recognized Elijah’s complete despair.
The food and water the Angel gave to Elijah was so satisfying and fulfilling that it kept Elijah going for 40 days as he traveled on to Mt. Horeb. It was no accident that God sent Elijah on this journey. God could have given him a shorter route, but God knew Elijah needed time to recover. God was taking care of Elijah.
In Psalm 23:1, we read, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” God took care of Elijah when he was on the run from Jezebel and in the same way God took care of David when he was one the run from King Saul.
In 1 Kings 19:9-10, God listens to Elijah as he vents. He tells God what he is feeling. Note that God already knew what he was feeling, but ‘naming and claiming it’ makes it REAL for us.
There were times when I sat at my desk after a very difficult telephone call and took a moment to breath. During those brief moments, I would named my frustration as I breathed out. When I inhaled, I received God’s gentleness and peace.
In the cave, as God listened to Elijah, 1 Kings 19:9-10, “And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Elijah poured out his heart to God. He told God what he’d been through and what he was feeling. Even though God knew all of that, SAYING it was important.
Then, in 1 Kings 19:11-12, something happened that helps us understand how very gentle and loving our God IS. “Then He (God) said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.“
God revealed Himself to Elijah in the same way He had reveled Himself to Moses. In Exodus 33:19b-23, God said, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”
God didn’t HAVE TO personally appear to Elijah or to Moses, but HE DID. what’s incredible about his appearance to Elijah is that God could have been in the strong wind, but He was not. God could have been in the earthquake, but He was not. God could have been in the fire, but HE WAS NOT. God created the wind, and the earthquake, and fire, but He chose not to appear to Elijah IN those elements.
God chose to appear to Elijah in His still small voice. God IS gentle with those who love Him and serve Him.
I think that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:4-5,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
All those years I worked, I too learned in the midst of ‘busy’ I could instantly connect with this gentle God by turning my ear to Him and inhaling His Spirit into my crazy journey of life.
God IS wind. God is earthquake. God is fire.
God is gentle.
God is closer that you think. Turn. Breathe in, and receive.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Turn. Breathe in. Receive.
If one minute is all the time you have, take that one minute to turn to God. Inhale the Spirit of God into your soul. Receive what God has for you.
In God, Deborah