My kindness shall not depart from you. Isaiah 54:10
When I first became a Christian, around 15 years old, I remember hearing a lot about changing your life to be more Christ-like. Before I rushed into any big change I thought I would ask God to be specific. So, I prayed He would show me an area where I needed change. I was reading about Paul and the thorn in his flesh and was wondering what that thorn was.
What was causing Paul to pray to God over and over? Why couldn’t he overcome whatever this thorn in the flesh was? My thoughts were clear and my mind open to the idea that the still-small voice of the Holy Spirit would speak. This wasn’t my first prayer, but it was the first prayer with me asking what God wanted rather than asking only for what I wanted.
As I read Paul’s words a question came to me. What would I consider a thorn in my own flesh? Something that would be impossible for me. It didn’t take long for me to think of it. To be kinder. To be nice even to people that didn’t deserve it.
I often did not even consider other people to begin with, and when I did it was usually for what I was getting out of it. We all have certain virtues, mine was just not kindness. But God in His kindness slowly taught me by example what loving kindness looks like and feels like. A thousand times, even when I pushed it away kindness was offered.
Kindness can be the hardest thing to give as well as receive. It takes all that is harsh and softens it. Kindness is an interlude between knowing you could offer help and deciding if it is worth it to you. It is beyond forgiveness.
It is helping the forgiven, it is the next step, it is lifting a hand for your enemy, it is giving what was never even asked for. A humbling downward to lift someone or something up and then walking away unnoticed. It’s as if you never did it at all. All that unaffected loveliness of the touch of Jesus can only come when we stop paying attention and patting ourselves on the back.
We should hardly notice as we are moved to be kind. It isn’t a sacrifice. God no longer wants our sacrifices. God wants our soul. All that we are, this whole moving meditation that is a life. For longer than an hour of prayer. He desires our constant relationship.
The day I was reading about Paul and asking God to show me where I could change. It was a beginning of this eternal promise of kindness. As He gently answered with a question back to me, and I know it seems small and maybe just a coincidence that kindness came to mind, but really I think a relationship that was one sided turned into a two sided one.
I didn’t understand then about how we sometimes like to make deals and trades with God. I didn’t recognize it as that at the time. Now looking back I see it clearer. How I decided since I had quite a few babysitting jobs that I would start to tithe. God asked me for kindness and I offered up my money instead.
“My kindness will not depart from you.” It hasn’t yet and I’m certain that it wont. His promises are not forgotten.