Learning to bend as we age by Christin Ditchfield for the Consilium

“When they reached the slopes of the mountain, Grace and Glory stood still in delighted surprise, for stretching before her were fields of slender reeds, swaying in the breeze and tossing lightly in rhythmic motion like waves or a slightly rolling sea…”

Lately, I’ve been re-reading Mountains of Spices – the sequel to the classic Christian allegory Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.

In the original story, a trembling, crippled, and deeply unhappy girl named Much-Afraid is invited by the Shepherd King to accompany Him on a journey that will transform her inside and out, and give her feet like a deer (or a hind) so that she can bound across the mountain heights. In the second book, the girl formerly known as Much-Afraid has become “Grace and Glory.” But she discovers she still has a lot to learn about the Kingdom of Love — and the Fruit of the Spirit, in particular.

One day the Shepherd leads her to a lofty mountain, covered in dancing reeds that make a beautiful sound and give off a gorgeous perfume – “very fresh and fragrant and soothing.”

“He pointed out to her exquisite grace and lovely, unresisting meekness with which they [the reeds] bowed themselves before the wind, sometimes right to the ground, only to sweep upright again from that low position, without apparent effort or strain of any kind, as soon as the wind had passed over them. A lovely gracious submissiveness characterized their every movement and yet at the same time there was something grandly regal about the poise and perfect control of their motions, no weakness of any kind but the most perfect command.”

What a great definition of gentleness or submission! It’s not weakness, apathy, passivity; it’s strength and power under control.

A truly submissive spirit comes from a place of confidence and authority. It’s a choice, made freely – not under compulsion.Learning to bend as we age by Christin Ditchfield for the Consilium

“No one takes [My life] from Me; I lay it down of My own free will.” (John 10:18)

Standing on the mountainside, Grace and Glory realizes that the lovely fragrance called “gentleness, sympathy, and loving understanding was developed by the daily practice of bending submissively to life’s hard and difficult experiences without bitterness, or resentful resistance and self-pity.”

That last part is the hard part, isn’t it?

I like to think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned not to sweat as much of the small stuff… I’m much more flexible. I’ve learned to bend through a lot of life’s challenges, to persevere and endure. And to trust – or at least to wait and see a while, before rushing out to make posters declaring the end of the world is nigh.

Then again…

The more I’ve lost or had to let go of, the more I (sometimes) find myself clinging tightly to what I have left. Stubbornly determined to control the things I think I can control while mourning or resenting the things I can’t.

But there’s a difference between submission and stoicism, submission and resignation.

Like Grace and Glory, I want the former — a truly gentle and submissive spirit, fully and joyfully surrendered to the will of God. I’m learning it comes ultimately from faith in the nature and character of Jesus, “the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“Tis Love that plans my lot, not fate;
Lord, teach this grace to me.”

I’m discovering that the best way to receive this grace, to embrace this Truth in the very depths of my being is to spend more time in His presence. Pressing in, holding on tight to Him.

Because as I’m getting older, I find I need Him more and more – not less.

How are you learning to bend in your present season of life?

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Christin Ditchfield is an internationally syndicated radio host, popular conference speaker, and author of more than 66 books – including What Women Should Know About Letting It Go: Breaking Free From the Power of Guilt, Discouragement, and Defeat. Christin is passionate about calling women to a deeper life — the life we long for, the life we were created for! She blogs at ChristinDitchfield.com.

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