On the 1st Dec 1955, a public bus pulls to a stop in Montgomery and a black woman in her 40’s gets on. She sits on the row reserved for coloured people and watches quietly as the bus is filled with new passengers. Then came the defining moment in the history of the United States.
The driver orders her to give up her seat to a white passenger and this black woman utters a single word that ignites one of the most important civil rights protest of the 20th Century. She said NO. The driver threatens to have her arrested.
She refuses to budge. A police officer arrives and she still wouldn’t budge. She’s arrested for disorderly behavior and on the afternoon of her trial, 5,000 people showed by at a Baptist church to support Rosa Parks’ single act of courage. Martin Luther King addresses the crowd with these words, “There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. Rosa Parks stands there quietly and her mere presence is enough to galvanize the crowd. That day was the beginning of the change in the course of American history.
When Rosa Parks died at the age of 92, a flood of obituaries came in recalling how she was soft-spoken, very sweet in nature, small in stature, timid, and even shy, but having the courage of a lion. They used phrases like radical humility and quiet fortitude. Rosa Parks wrote an autobiography of herself called “Quiet Strength”, a title that challenges us to question our assumptions and presuppositions. We’ve a word for that in Scripture. It’s called MEEKNESS.
So why shouldn’t quiet be strong? If you’ve ever sat for one of these personality tests before, whether it’s the Briggs-Meyers test or the DISC test, you’ll discover very quickly that the most important aspect of personality, what’s called the north and south of temperament, is the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Where we stand on this continuum influences everything like the choice of our friends, how we make conversation, resolve difference and express love.
It affects the jobs we choose, the careers we want, and really, almost about everything else. Yet today, we make room for a very narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be loud; and to be happy, you must be sociable. If we think that being extroverted is the only way forward, then we’ve forgotten and lost sight of who we really are.
Meekness is one of the great qualities of the Kingdom. Many people think that meekness means weakness, fragility, frailty or submissiveness. But when you study the men in the Bible who were called meek, only two men in the Bible make the list. These are the “A-listers” – Moses and Jesus! (Num 12:3 and Matt 11: 29). Do you think Moses was weak? Do you think Christ was weak?
Meekness is manifested in a quiet and controlled spirit and it’s not provoked, and neither does it react to taunts. Essentially, meekness relinquishes all rights. Not only that, isn’t it interesting that meekness is the one enduring quality that’s connected with possessing the earth? Introverts, quiet people have given us the Theory of Relativity, the Theory of Gravity, Google, Charlie Brown, Schindler’s List, ET, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Peter Pan etc. The list goes on and on. May we in Cornerstone discover what really matters in life and what matters to God.