His Gentleness

by Natalie Revesz, correspondent

Max Bender/courtesy

Night dropped softly over the city, which was still bustling with the inertia of another summer day in July. I sat quietly in a strange dorm room, deliberating over the past school year here at Moody. The challenges and failures and difficult truths echoed through the empty halls. Without the usual turbulence on campus, I had a lot of time and solitude with which to contemplate them.

I filled my hours with work and physical activity, but even that left copious amounts of time to examine what I had really experienced in my first year. When I was being honest with myself, the list was not as picturesque or positive as I had hoped. Surely, there was adventure, friendship, fulfillment, dreams that came true, and growth that pervaded me more than I had thought; but there was also pride, error, arrogance, selfish motive, manipulation, flaking on commitments, and loss of self-control.

Many of the good gifts I had forgotten to offer praise for, and many of the sinful issues I had neglected to notice until they had grown into insidious hindrances to my relationship with God and his people. Every day it felt like God was peeling off a new layer of pride, proving my foolishness and stubborn attitude to be affronts to His majesty and sacrifice, leaving rawer and thinner skin behind. Facing the truth about myself was harsh for a moment, but as the Spirit unearthed these realities, it revealed something new to me of God’s character.

I could have unwittingly stayed in that mess. I could have gone the rest of my life making the same hapless mistakes and carrying the same ugly self-importance around. I could have lived parading behind a mask in fear of all people and proximity to them. Sitting in my office—harrowed by having to fix my mistakes and not being able to help everyone as well as I wanted—I realized that I could have continued defining myself with my faltering performance.

And alone in my dorm room those months, I realized that if I continued to push people away, I could end up living this secluded type of life devoid of all meaning. But God’s discipline to me was gentle. He corrected me and unraveled convoluted knots of sin deeply entrenched in me in a way that invited me closer to him, one that restored me to his side rather than forcing me away. I could bear the small sting in that moment and know that my future relationships would benefit from it.

And because I had seen this gentleness in him, I could extend it to others who wronged me. I learned that the Lord’s faithfulness to me included his rebuke, and that the consequences of that rebuke were far gentler than if he had turned me over to judgment for my sins. As Hebrews 12:6 says, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” My work became an avenue of worship, and as campus flooded with people again, I praised God that solitude would only have to be a temporary circumstance for the summer.

Similarly, the Moody community navigated a great many storms last year. We learned firsthand how mistrust, division, and assumption amidst uncertainty can drive even people who profess Christ apart. Even in this new school year, we can probably expect to keep rolling on the waves that crash in. But when we see these problematic sides of Moody, I wonder if we can experience instead God’s gentleness to us—gentleness that corrects one another for the purpose of redemptive cohesion rather than scapegoating—and extend it to each other. I think that if we understand how God brings even our communal flaws gently to our consciousness so that we can better bring him glory, we would seek him, bear the momentary affliction of conviction, and be more apt to show a fellow Moody community member who fails the same gentleness. Then our work can become worship again and our disparate parts will meld together in unity.

 

Night drops softly over our city at the end of every day, but we know that the sun brings

the Lord’s new mercies with the gentle rays of dawn.

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