Gentle Answers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV) 

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) 

A gentle answer defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG) 

How can we answer gently defuse the anger that is ravaging our cities? I wish I had the perfect answer that would restore order and peace. However, I recognize that there is no simple answer nor quick fix. This morning, I came across a powerful message from a woman of color , Nicole Walters, who gave me far deeper insight into what is going on. What if the protesting that has turned violent by some comes from a long-standing space of grief? Grief for the way that the world perceives individuals, based solely on the color of their skin. What if, after a lifetime of both observing and living this reality, the one more thing brought an end to the quiet peaceful ways of seeking right where so much is wrong, and what we are witnessing is screaming for our attention? No longer can we stay silent. We must listen and learn. In the same way the colonists attempted to peacefully right the wrongs imposed by authorities subjecting the citizens to unfair taxes, by letter writing, petitioning, and the like, they hit a point of being ignored, unheard, for far too long, and The Boston Tea Party took place. Rather than continue to be taxed on tea, they snuck aboard the ship and threw that tea into the harbor. Fires were ablaze, and civil unrest rose up. Enough was enough. What is going on now, is not so different. Preventable tragedies and gross atrocities continue to take place against people of color, and enough is enough. No, looting is not the answer, yet it has certainly demanded our attention. Each one of us needs to look at our own lens, and recognize where cleaning needs to occur. Sometimes, the lack of clarity of our view, comes from an unintentional ignorance. The more we know, the better we can become at loving our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, the way that God intended. Love always protects. If we begin to listen and learn and answer gently, with the wisdom and grace that God provides, then perhaps the anger will be defused and peace may begin to be restored. This begins with me. I love deeply, and value everyone. That being said, I must be intentional to become more aware, and learn how to love better. This is not meant to be some sort of soap box post, but rather one of recognition and repentance for not knowing what I have not clearly known. As a woman who loves Jesus, a mother, a teacher, and a friend, change begins with me. There is always more to learn to do better and be better. My job demands that I listen and learn, evolve and grow – in each of my roles; for each position give me a unique voice and the ability to impact those around me. May we seek the Lord for wisdom as we are intentional to listen and learn, so that we may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God as we are called. 

O Lord, here am I, 

On true bended knees; 

Asking for wisdom, 

So I clearly see. 

Please open my eyes, 

To where I’ve been blind; 

Lead me to better, 

Show me Your design. 

Help me to act justly, 

To love with mercy; 

May I humbly walk, 

Promote equity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You continue to grow us as we are willing to listen and learn. Thank You that You have created each of us with gifts and talents to share with and positively impact the world. Forgive us for our ignorance or places where we have not viewed the world through Your lens. Teach us to continue to intentionally learn and grow, so that we may more clearly reflect Your love and light unto the world. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all people feel valued, heard, and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and learn, so that we may always answer gently and help defuse anger with love. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – Micah 6:8

Recognize What is Good

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – (Micah 6:8, NIV)

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – (Micah 6:8, ERV)

But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously. – (Micah 6:8, MSG)

 

There is no better time than now, to recognize what goodness is, and walk it out. The things that God asks of us are the very same things that He grants to us in abundance. He is just and merciful and full of love, compassionate and kind. We are charged to humbly walk with God and do as He asks, so that we too, might be equipped to extend the same to all whom we encounter. Incredibly, these things are contagious. Random acts of kindness have a domino effect, as the recipient of one small act is often compelled to do something kind for someone else, and so on. In this space of “staying at home”, we may think we have little opportunity to do good and have any sort of impact, however, our kids, our families, our neighbors, and even the checker at the grocery store when we need to restock supplies, will remember how we made them feel during this season. If we are compassionate and loyal in love, choosing fairness and kindness in all that we say and do, it will have a positive and lasting impact on those around us. It does make a difference, as even in our Zoom meetings, knowing my 6th grade team and I all love Jesus, there is a positivity, kindness and compassion toward one another and genuine concern for our students, that binds us together in common purpose. We are all willing to trust one another and try new things, as we each know the intention of the others is good. May we recognize the opportunity that we each have in this season to do as the Lord has shown us; for He will clearly show us what is good, what loyalty in love looks like, how to extend kindness, how to grant mercy, and how to walk humbly with Him.

 

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The Lord clearly shows;

What we are to do,

And which doors to close.

He shows us mercy,

So we’ll do the same;

To love, give kindness,

It honors His Name.

As we walk with Him,

And humbly pray;

He leads and guides us,

He shows us the way.

His plan’s always good,

Full of love and grace;

We’re meant for the same,

As we walk His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us what is good and what You require of us. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not also willing to give us and equip us to do. Thank You that You first loved us and made the way for us to do as You ask of us. Forgive us for the times that we have not represented You well, or have done nothing when we were meant to reach out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have Your eyes to see the opportunities to operate justly, love mercy, give kindness, love with loyalty, and ever walk humbly with You. Show us specific and tangible ways to demonstrate Your goodness and love everywhere we go, with everyone whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek to love others like You do. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Choose Reach Out

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” – (Isaiah 58:6-8, NIV)

“I will tell you the kind of day I want – a day to set people free. I want a day that you take the burdens off others. I want a day when you set troubled people free and you take the burdens from their shoulders. I want you to share your food with the hungry. I want you to find the poor who don’t have homes and bring them into your own homes. When you see people who have no clothes, give them your clothes! Don’t hide from your relatives when they need help. If you do these things, your light will begin to shine like the light of dawn. Then your wounds will heal. Your “Goodness” will walk in front of you, and the Glory of the Lord will come following behind you.” – (Isaiah 58:6-8, ERV)

 

The foundation of what God asks of us has always been the same – Love God and love people. If we are fasting, let it be for the purpose of actively pursuing God and loving people. If we are praying, may it be out of faith in our Father and our desire to do good for others. As we live, may our lives clearly demonstrate our love for God and for ALL whom He has created. There are no qualifiers on loving people; He calls us to love all people tangibly and practically. If they are burdened; help carry the weight and set them free. If people are hungry; feed them. If people are in need of the basic requirements for existence; start with clothing and shelter. Furthermore, we are meant to be aware of and care for the needs of our family as well. Incredibly, as we do these things, we begin to reflect the heart of God to those around us. Our obedience leads to blessings in our own lives too. He heals and surrounds each soul that chooses to surrender and serve others as He asks. May we look to the Lord for wisdom and strength, so that we go forth and tangibly love people as an extension of our love for Him.

 

May our focus be,

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Typography poster lettering love and ethnic patterns. Vector illustration hand drawn.

Intent on the Lord;

On what He’s asking,

As strength He affords.

The priority,

In all that we do;

Love God and people,

It’s what we’re called to.

Some practical ways,

His love can be shown;

Help meet other’s needs,

Leads to God’s heart known.

As we choose reach out,

God’s present within;

Healing and helping,

Makes hope rise again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a reason for fasting and praying is ultimately to love God and love people better. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us as we come and seek You. Thank You that Your word tells us practically how to love people well, and in turn, honor and love You. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love people well. Teach us to have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to understand what You would have us do practically in every circumstance. Thank You that You are far greater than our time, talent or resources, and that You take what we offer and multiply what we bring. Show us how to love the people around us tangibly, for You know every need in existence. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional as we love You and love the people around us, every seeking You for ways to love practically and tangibly to meet needs. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – Micah 6:8