When life was lived at a younger time…
Through the years I’ve even been known to walk into snowy paths without any shoes. Yes. My feet were cold, and yes, there was a the possibility that I would end up with frostbite…but there was something real and primal about stepping into the snow! It felt good!
About 6 or 7 I remember asking if I could walk outside on frosted grass. It must have been January or so. After a little bit, mom let me go. Yes. It was cold and I did not last long, but again, there was something real about hearing the grass crunch under cold feet!
Yesterday, I walked the 150 feet to the mailbox. Barefooted. I do it every so often to test how well I can stand up to cold, heat, or discomfort. Sometimes in the driveway, other times in the grass. Tiny pebbles hurt! And I wondered why we have allowed our feet to become so soft!
In fact, I wondered why we have allowed so much of who we once were to become so soft. As a kid, and being barefooted often, our feet toughened up. We tread through rougher areas with ease. Pebbles only hurt if they were real sharp. Stickers were pulled out with ease.
Maybe this is similar to the way we have developed a toughness of spirit and attitude. We have tread through so many harsh situations and our gentle interior has developed a shell that easily rejects the barbs tossed our way.
Somewhere, somehow, we must seek for balance. The ability to stand against the harshness of the world around us, but at the same time having a gentleness to deal with those in need. Balance. Equal toughness. Equal softness.
I love what Solomon says about softness, because I believe there is something better we can do with our words other than coming across as a tough speaker.
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV)
Answers can be soft or harsh. One produces better results than the other! It’s similar to the rain we need on our plants – soft and gentle, not hard. The Apostle Paul spoke often of Gentleness, as a fruit of the spirit that we nurture within our hearts. In fact, he even says that the way we teach and admonish should be in a gentle mode!
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16 NKJV)
That single word “admonishing” comes out of the Greek as “to put in mind, that is, (by implication) to caution or reprove gently“. Gently caution. Gently reprove. This does not mean we back down from the toughness to handle a situation, only that we learn how address the issues with a gentle spirit.
What specific word did he have in mind when he wrote this? I like to think he saw Jesus as a Gentle person. Tough in the face of adversity, but constantly having a gentle spirit to deal with all the issues of the day.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
Oh, this is something I must continually learn. Over. And Over. And Over Again. I must learn to be Gentle, as He is Gentle. While true I need to protect my feet from the dangers of being too calloused by having them shod with the Gospel of Peace, I must also learn to protect the Gentleness we are called to be! And, that the enemies of my spirit and person cannot harm me while I have the toughness of a shield of faith that can withstand the barbs of enemies (Ephesians 6:14-18).
Equally Tough. Equally Gentle…