They're written all over the world, slipped into a bird song or the pink clouds of evening or the arms of a friend—love notes from God tucked into our days to remind us He sees and knows and cares.
Sometimes I find them in a familiar passage of Scripture or in one I haven’t read for a long time, a few words that feel like Someone slipped them into a most unlikely spot with a smile on His face, dreaming of me discovering them on an otherwise ordinary day.
That happened this week as I was reading through 1 Peter. The first part of chapter 3 is addressed to wives and husbands—not all that relevant to me as a single woman, one might expect. But there in the middle were two glimpses of who God is and what God loves that had me kneeling in awe and gratitude.
The first was the reminder in v.4 that “a gentle and quiet spirit . . . is of great worth in God’s sight.” For those of us who ache to step out of the world’s drive to do more and own more and accomplish more and instead live a listening life, walking (not racing) with Jesus, this is such good news. That gentle, quiet spirit that you want to cultivate? The one that the world devalues and dismisses? It is of great worth in God’s sight. Why? Well, for starters, it's like the spirit of his Son who is also gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29; 21:5). And second, a gentle and quiet spirit is rooted in trust, humility, and making our home in Jesus’s love—which is precisely where God calls us to live, in this only place we can thrive (John 15:9).
A few verses on, Peter addresses husbands—even less relevant to me, one might think. But there in v.17 I glimpse all over again the magnificent mystery of Christ’s tender, respectful love for us. Marriage is, after all, meant to be a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church, and Jesus sets the standard for that relationship.
"Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her. . ." (Eph. 5:25-27 The Message)
I’ve soaked in Eph 5:22-33, memorizing the wonder of it. And on that background, Peter’s words to husbands make me kneel in awe:
“. . . treat [your wives] with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life” (1 Pet 3:7).
Set aside for a second whatever might rise in you about women being called “the weaker partner” and hear what Peter is saying here. The emphasis is not on who is “the weaker partner” (an automatic assumption in the world of Peter’s time) but on treating her with respect rather than looking down on her. She is not a second-class citizen. She is a fellow heir. And Jesus treats us all, men and women, who are inarguably the weaker partners in our marriage with Him, not with impatience or disdain or even pity but with respect and special care, as fellow heirs with Him (Rom 8:17). As Walter Brueggemann says, commenting on Psalm 103:13-14, “the reality of our ‘dust’ does not evoke in God rejection or judgment, but fidelity.”
This, it seems to me, is foundational in allowing us to develop a gentle and quiet spirit. We can only begin to release our anxieties and our need to defend or prove ourselves when we know ourselves welcomed and cherished and even respected right in the middle of our weakness.
What's it like for you to consider that Jesus doesn't look down on you in your weakness but respects you and cherishes you in it?
As you think back over the past 24 hours, can you spot any words or encounters that might have been a love note left just for you?