In this moment Peter was over confident… He felt that He was ready to die for Christ; not realizing that in a few short hours, he would deny Christ. And it is for this very reason that Jesus assured Peter that He was praying for the struggling disciple. Because after his fall, the fisherman was going to need the assurance that Jesus knew, Jesus cared, and Jesus would be there when Peter returned.“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31–32 NKJV)
I've had a similar experience in my life. Before our eldest son was born, God gave me the song A Gentle Man, as a kind of word in advance. I was at a pastor's prayer group around Christmas time and we were reading from Philippians 4:4-7. Verse 4 is familiar to many:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NKJV)
In kindergarden Sabbath school we used to sing this verse in rounds. It was one of my favorites.
Philippians 4:6-7 is also familiar:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7 NKJV)
These verses have brought great comfort to many a man or woman seeking strength and solace through prayer.
But Philippians 4:5… the verse in between rejoicing and prayer… Do you remember what it says? I didn't. And when I discovered it on that December day in 2000, one word leapt off the page. Gentleness! And what does the verse say?
“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5 NRSV)
"Gentleness. Gentleness. Gentleness." I thought; almost whispering the word under my breath.
"Sounds like: Gentlemen. Ladies and Gentlemen."
Up to this point I had never thought of the word gentlemen apart from ladies. But that day my mind drifted away from the ladies to the Lover of my Soul. The thought came, "Jesus was the original Gentle Man!"
The next thought was a picture of the lamb, and the words of the prophet Isaiah ringing in my ears:
“like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7 NRSV)
In the hour of His trial, Jesus remained a Gentle Man. And in the hour of my reflection he gave me a song which would become His advance notice in my life. An assurance similar to that given to Peter when Jesus said, "Simon, I have prayed for you." And whenever I sing this song, I am reminded that the same Jesus who prayed for Simon regarding a coming weakness prays for me and prays for you before the hour of our personal trials.
As for me, my weakness is keeping my cool when my kids are loosing theirs. And, as I would come to find out with the birth of my first born, I was not nearly as gentle, patient, or loving as my Savior. Many a time in the past eleven years I have had to go before Christ pleading for forgiveness and grace because I have failed to reflect His gentle patience to my children. And yet I find hope and courage in His promise to "finish the good work He has begun" in me.
Recently I was visiting with my mentor Gary Burns over the phone. I was sharing about an experience where I had lost it with my son. And Gary said something to me that gave great strength and is a reminder of this song. He said, "Jim, God is not willing to compromise His character in order to get us to change. If you want your children to love Jesus, you must model the Jesus you desire them to love."
In his own loving way, Gary gave me a gentle rebuke and strengthened my courage. I am so thankful that Jesus chose to speak through my trusted mentor and inspire me to be a kinder, gentler man, who is fully aware that the Lord is near.
And this is my prayer for you dear friend. Be you a mother, a father, a brother, sister, grandparent, friend, or mentor… may you look full in His wonderful face… and may the gentle eyes of Jesus melt your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh… May His Spirit flood Your soul and may you find yourself gentler and kinder to your family, your friends, and your foes.
A Gentle Man
©2000 words & music, by James Moon
A Gentle Man in all Your ways
With gentle hands, and a tender face
Compassionate eyes and loving heart
Truly you are, a Gentle Man
You could have come a conquering king
With brazen sword and fire in Your eyes.
But instead You chose swaddling clothes
Infant flesh and gentleness (chorus i)
Oppressed and afflicted You did not speak
But like a lamb ever meek
with nails in Your hands and thorns on Your head
You remained a Gentle Man (chorus i)
O Gentle Man You’ve blessed me
with an infant child of my own,
But how can you be seen
If my heart is not Your home?
So Gentle Man take my life
my hardened heart, my stubborn pride
And with one touch of Your healing hand
Make of me a gentle man
Make a gentle man in all my ways
with gentle hands, and a tender face
Compassionate eyes and a loving heart
that my baby might be Your gentle manthat my baby might be Your gentle man