We all have those moments when we’re aware of our fragility. They might come as we look ahead to the fall schedule—full of good things, but still full. Or as we realize that we’ve fallen into the same trap again, succumbed to the same old lie. Or at the end of a long day or the beginning of a new venture or in the slow and steady middle when we’ve forgotten the excitement of beginning and can’t yet see the joy of the goal.
Too often I still try to fix that fragility. Or hide it. Or cut it off. I think I need to be strong to make it through. Sometimes we sing that conviction, asking God to “overcome our weakness that we can shine out Your light.”
But what if His plan is not to overcome our weakness but to shine through it? What if He wants to show the world love more than He wants to show it power? Or what if the power He wants to show the world is the limitless power of perfect love, a strength strong enough to hold and love all the broken pieces of us as well as the healthy ones? What if all my attempts to be strong are nothing more than a failure to surrender to the Love so strong that it doesn’t fear brokenness?
The flower hangs half-broken, its lovely head down, swinging limply from the crease where its stem’s fibers glisten damp and dark and stringy. I’m sure it is going to die anyway, that flower already mostly broken, so I finish the break, pinching it off to place in a vase for a day or three as it continues its slow death.
Jesus never does that. His love never gives up. He straightens the stem, splints it, and gives it time to heal.
A bruised reed he will not break.
The wick smoulders dim red, trying vainly to burst into flame but filling the air instead with a spiral of dark, smelly smoke. I lick my fingers and reach over to pinch it dead without a thought, except maybe a thought about the unpleasantness of the smoke.
Then I watch Jesus respond to the same weak wick. He bends down, stooping until the wick is level with his kind eyes, really seeing it, and blows ever so gently, not extinguishing but feeding it with life-giving Spirit-breath. The wick rests, receives, and bursts into flame.
A smouldering wick He will not snuff out.
What I love most about Jesus—today, at least, and most days—is His gentleness. Linger here with me, will you, and find yourself safe and loved and tended as we prepare to step into fall?
Jesus, as the calendar turns to the next month and summons us into a new term, a new season, a new year, keep this ever before us: You do not change. You who have led us gently through the summer invite us to follow you gently into the fall. To let ourselves be held. To stop trying to make ourselves strong enough to face it all, smart enough to figure it all out, or efficient enough to get it all done in a hurry. You never tire of inviting us to come and rest and let ourselves be loved and touched and mended, to stop fretting about the smoke and let ourselves feel Your gentle Spirit-breath until we burst into bright flame.
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He has been tending this bruised reed with such care. Thanks for the beautiful, beautiful word pictures that bring it all into the clear light of day.
You’re welcome, JoDee. May you see His kind eyes seeing you today, and feel His hands straightening and supporting you tenderly. You are loved!
Beautiful. Thank you!
I love your writing….not strength, love. Today I caught myself thinking “I have got to hurry, I have so much to do,” but then I heard in my spirit “why?” As I continued this conversation…God reminded me that love is higher and more important than production….that it all doesn’t matter without love…strength, hurry, checking off lists, those are my yoke, not God’s…His is much, much better and includes rest, awash with love. Thank you for your words.
Lovely, Annie. Thank you for sharing your conversation with God!
Yes, gentleness. Heard myself pray, “Lord, thank You for the gentle power of Your Holy Spirit” and was brought up short with Awe. That’s it! That’s the difference; GENTLE power of the Holy Spirit is in direct contrast to our falling into scrambling for strength/power when love, gentle love, through the gentle power of His Spirit is what He so longs to release through us. Lord, help us receive. And release.