The Strength of Gentleness

Closing Devotion at LWSA-NT Convention, May 2021

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. John 7:37-39 (NIV)

As I reflect on the theme of The Strength of Gentleness, I can’t go past our location for today in Mannum and the River Murray that runs through it. I do not know about you, but there is something about the gentle flow of the river, especially when I feel stressed, that is calming, that carries my worries. My parents live down river in Murray Bridge and on occasion we will go for a walk along its banks. There is something that is incredibly soothing about the river. Yet a river is not only gentle but incredibly strong and powerful.

In time of flood, the river surges and can flood the surrounding area and cause destruction, but more often than not the river maintains a quiet ebb and flow. I am drawn to its gentleness. Its slow, measured path heads south, meandering back and forth, forging many curves as it gently passes through the landscape on its journey. Eventually it runs through the Murray mouth and into the sea.

A river exerts its strength, not by its greatness and power, but through its gentle persistence. Over time it wears down things it meets, gently shaping its surroundings.

Gentleness is like that. As the living water of Jesus slowly impacts on our lives, it smooths out our rough edges so gradually that we may only see the difference years later.

The gentleness of God is like the river. Working in us first, filling us like a river filling a lake. Then, the most beautiful thing happens, the lake fills up and continues to overflow as the water moves ever onwards. God’s gentleness begins to pour out of us and begins to change the people God puts in our paths. First changing them and then filling more lives in the process.

I think of your ministry as women and especially as Lutheran women of SA-NT in that way. You are a river that just begins with a single drop of rain graciously given from our loving Creator, then forming pools to become springs and streams and tributaries and eventually a mighty river shaping the landscape and bringing life to communities around it. In the same way, do not underestimate your contribution or your place in God’s creation, or the strength of your contribution.

Today you come together as individuals whose lives have been filled with streams of living water from Jesus. Your guild or fellowship may be small, maybe even struggling, but know that God has called you together and, as one, you are collectively shaping not only your immediate context but the landscape, bringing life to others through your gentle generosity, your acts of service, your financial contributions and your dedication – things that are not always evident but when looked at from a larger perspective, dare I say from God’s perspective, are no less valuable.

And it is also reciprocal. Just as you bring life to the river – the river brings life to you. What a privilege to be able to gather today after COVID interrupted our plans to meet last year and forced us to alter our course, much like a river. Hopefully, you have received and been refreshed today by the various speakers and presentations and from the fellowship and hospitality of the Mannum fellowship and from the source of living water, Christ himself, and you have received something that not only has refreshed you but will flow through you – that you can take back to your own homes and communities to bring life and refreshment and renewal to them. Rivers of gentleness; rivers of God’s love!

How has the gentleness of someone affected your life?
In what ways is God calling you into gentleness today?

Pastor Mark Welke
LWSA-NT Spiritual Counsellor

About the Author

Pastor Mark Welke

Pastor Mark is the spiritual advisor for LWSA-NT.

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