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Powerful Yet Tender

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“See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him. He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” — Isaiah 40:10,11

When I see it—in actions, words, or formal presentation, it’s always a favorite combination . . . power with tenderness.

And it’s not difficult to find in our military today. We often see pictures of service members, like the one below of an Army officer, fully armed and prepared for necessary battle, yet meeting with children on the street, or carrying a baby to safety . . . or holding a puppy . . . or protecting innocent civilians from harm.

When I first read Eric Blehm’s book on the life of Navy SEAL Adam Brown, Fearless, I was struck by this description: “Known for his compassion, Adam was always the first to do something like break open a light stick for a baby to play with or give a candy bar to a terrified child. But he wasn’t the only one. In a group of men whose business is killing, the fury they release upon the enemy is rivaled only by the humanity they display for innocents caught in the crossfire.” (p. 180)

In another description of Adam, his wife, Kelley, tells the story of the night when an intruder broke into their house in Virginia Beach. Right after he threatened the intruder and chased him out of the Brown home, Adam immediately went to check on the children and console Kelley. She said, “’Like that,’ Kelley says, snapping her fingers, ‘he went from this scary-sounding man back to my cuddly Adam. It gave me a glimpse—just a glimpse—of why he was so good at what he did. Why he was a SEAL.’” (p. 186)

I always knew this was the character of Jesus—total power, yet total tenderness, compassion and humility. Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, Son of Almighty God, sovereign creator of the universe, refers to himself in Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Certainly we see contrast in how He submitted His power for our redemption at the cross.

But I saw this recently in Isaiah 40. God’s power is described in verse 10: “See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him.” And following immediately in verse 11 we see His tenderness: “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”

A similar meaning is found in Psalm 89:13,14: “Your arm is endued with power; Your hand is strong, Your right hand exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You.”

There is another part of the new book Fearless which includes a conversation which Adam Brown (a Christian–this book tells his journey of faith) had with his fellow SEAL, John Faas, about Stu Weber’s classic book, Tender Warrior.  What is said affirms our topic:

What ya got going there? John (Faas) said from the doorway, lifting his chin toward the book.

“Tender Warrior,” Adam replied and showed John the cover.  “You can read it; I’m almost done.  Check this out,” he said, thumbing backward through the pages.  “It was written by Stu Weber, a Vietnam veteran, Special Forces.  He became a chaplain.”  Stopping at a passage, he handed the book to John, who read,

“The Warrior function is . . . unmistakable in Scripture . . . Within the epistles, the mature believing man is often described in militant terms–a warrior equipped to battle mighty enemies and shatter satanic strongholds.

The heart of the Warrior is a protective heart.  The Warrior shields, defends, stands between, and guards . . . He invests himself in ‘the energy of self-disciplined, aggressive action.’  By Warrior I do not mean one who loves war or draws sadistic pleasure from fighting or bloodshed.  There is a difference between a warrior and a brute.  A warrior is a protector . . . Men stand tallest when they are protecting and defending.”

The brotherhood of DEVGRU SEALs is built upon a foundation of mutual respect, and just as Adam aspired to what he considered John’s “genius”–academically and as a warrior–John aspired to Adam’s ability to juggle and, in his opinion, master the apparently paradoxical roles of fierce warrior and loving husband and father.  (p. 206,207)

Military men and women, and their families, demonstrate the attributes of the character of God daily—honor, courage, strength, sacrifice, patience, compassion, justice . . . and power with tenderness. Thank you.

Work Cited:

Blehm, Eric.  Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2012)

Questions to share:

1. Recall a photo image or personal experience when an act of tenderness accompanied the presence of great power.

2. How does this prayer from Ephesians 3:16-19 express the power of God demonstrated in tenderness? “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

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