“Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with magic.”
The above quote from Moby Dick refers to a whale’s tail, of all things, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the same could be said of God. He’s almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the one who holds the universe in his hands. We describe him as omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once), and omnipotent (all-powerful). He has no equal, and there’s nothing within reason for us to compare him to. Our minds simply cannot comprehend his wisdom, presence, and might.
But at the same time, Jesus showed us God is no power-crazed war-monger. In Christ, God stepped down from his throne in heaven, taking the form of a servant, in order to extend his grace to us. He showed his gentleness by not roaring in like a lion ready to devour us because of our sin, but by laying down his life as a lamb so as to take the hit for us. His gentle gesture was the most beautiful the world has ever seen.
I love the way the wise woman from Tekoa put it for David in 2 Samuel 14:14. “All of us must die eventually,” she said. “Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”
How much more gentle could he be? Despite being able to easily “sweep life away,” he instead makes plans to gently reconcile us with him — now that’s beautiful. Although we’re undeserving, he gives us a chance to be made right with him.
Like God, I aspire to be tough and tender too. I enjoy training and competing in boxing and mixed martial arts. I like movies like Gladiator and Ip Man. I want to be strong and be able to protect my family from people who would try to harm them.
But I also want to be gentle in the way I speak and act toward my wife. I want my son to know I’m not afraid to be affectionate, and that it’s okay for a man to show some emotion. David was a vicious warrior who played the harp! I think I’m in good company if I can both fight and enjoy a good sunrise.
So be strong and beautiful. Be tough and tender. They’re not the antithesis of each other. In fact, as God has shown, there are few characteristics of a person that are more complementary!