Karla and Life Goals

Let me briefly tell you about Karla.  Karla is my physical therapist.  During the first week of this past June I spent eight hours in a kayak class.  The class was going to be sixteen hours, but I did not make the second day.  In addition to all I learned in that first day, I also received the bargain of a “tennis elbow!”  My general practitioner gave me a cordizon shot which did absolutely no good, thankfully.  I asked to see a specialist who gave me a prescription to see a physical therapist and that is where Karla comes in, nearly four months later.

Karla has a doctorate in physical therapy plus a three year residency and she,,, is… GOOD!  Karla also is a kayaker so my goal, with her direction, is not simply to heal my tennis elbow, but to deal with all the issues which created it in the first place.  My kayak instructor showed me what I might have done wrong in holding my paddle, but the reality is that my body is a very complicated, intricately, intertwined unit.  Karla is working with all the muscles, tendons, etc that need to work together so that I can kayak, not just tomorrow, but for years to come.

With all of this I have pondered and also prayed about goals.  My general practitioner and even the sports doctor had the goal of healing my elbow.  Karla helped me see that I could have a bigger goal of being able to kayak now and in the future with my body working effectively.   I am glad that kayaking is not the only goal in my life though.

I have the goal of building a home in Sequim, but I have a bigger goal than simply building a house.  I have a goal of having a home of hospitality, contemplative prayer and service to others.  That is a bigger goal than simply having a house.  The house is the shell, the outer trappings for what I want to see happen in the house.

Now here is the challenge, where my primary, my over-arching goal supersedes all my other goals.  If the goal of building my house and even the goal of the purpose of the house were my primary goals, then I would have cataclysmic problems.  See, I want my goals to be accomplished NOW and they are NOT!  The snail pace of accomplishing my goals surrounding the building of my house might  lead to frustration, to impatience, to anger, to anxiety, to ulcers, to a heart attack.  Who knows what a snail pace of goal accomplishment might lead to

But, and this word BUT is very important, I have another goal, a primary goal which over-rides all other goals.  I have a goal that God might create in me the person that he desires, my true self in Christ, my new being and God uses EVERYTHING in my life to accomplish that major goal.  Snail pace construction might be God’s hammer and chisel to smooth out my rough edges, to create within me a person of trust and serenity.  I believe that which happens in my daily life are the building blocks, the tools in the hands of my Master Craftsman to construct in me the person he desires, and I know that this primary goal is a life-long goal, not a quick, temporary achievement.  Therefore, I am able to say “Thank you” and to surrender the moment into the Master’s hands.



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.