Don Fladland, one of the staff members at Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle beginning in the 1960’s, was the first person to teach me the importance of flexibility. I was a part of Impact Teams which travelled to churches throughout the Northwest and Don taught all of us the need to be flexible when we were to go to a church because we might not know what would be in store for us. Flexibility.
My next teachers of flexibility were all the people I met in countries abroad. While traveling abroad, especially in developing countries, one learns, or had better learn, to adjust to what is, not expect what one wants. Flexibility.
As I have become older, my flexibility teachers have become legion, including my physical therapist who is working with all my rigid muscles so that I can once again begin kayaking in these beautiful bays around Sequim. But perhaps the One behind all my teachers is the Spirit of God, who is the Master of flexibility and the best teacher of all. Life seems to be one series of changes, u-turns, detours, adjustments. All these changes demand flexibility.
On October 9, 2017 my life was somewhat scheduled, than my cell phone range at 9:30 a.m. and by 9:50 a.m. I was headed from Sequim, WA across the state to Spokane and then back again that same night. Flexibility. As I drove I was so full of joy that God had given me this opportunity to be there for my son Peter and daughter-in-law Paulie. When life changes, when God calls we are to flexibly adjust and joy was the by-product for me.
My guess is that Mary’s life was somewhat planned, that is until the angel Gabriel announced to her God’s new intentions for her life. Her response “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word,” began a journey that demanded a great deal of flexibility. Then there was the shepherd Moses whose life took a major detour back to Egypt after God spoke to him from a burning bush. I could continue to name scores and scores of Biblical personalities who demonstrated the virtue of flexibility.
But life changes are not always manifested by such a direct encounter with God. Ask anyone who has experienced the sudden death of a loved one. Perhaps the living blame God for a while, but, hopefully, ever so slowly, one begins to understand that life happens and so does death. Flexibility or the need for flexibility is suddenly thrust upon the living. Flexibility.
As we get older it is often harder to change, especially quickly. When we think that we are in control of our lives, unexpected change is an unwelcome reminder that we are not as much in control as we might think. But our Life Teacher, the Spirit of God, is always at work within us seeking to exercise our heart muscles, our mind muscles so that we will be open and available to God’s movement in us, a movement that demands heart flexibility.