Monday, February 3, 2014


“And Jesus said to the disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” -Mark 1:16-18 I played sports back in the day when stretching exercises weren’t much of a priority. So, years of soccer, football, running and inflexibility have taken their toll on my lower back. Though I stretched before running, over time, I started experiencing back pain. The final straw was climbing a 14er in Colorado last Spring. I carried a backpack and the strain of the hike left me in bad shape. I consulted with my doctor and she suggested that I have an X-ray and see a physical therapist. I had the X-ray done and it showed that I had arthritis in my lower back. Discouraged, I visited a physical therapist that showed me a series of stretching exercises and encouraged me to continue to exercise. “You are extremely tight,” he said, “but with these stretching exercises, it will increase your flexibility and decrease your lower back pain.” The journey began. I was unofficially placed on “injured reserve” and I entered into a rehabilitation program. I soon discovered that becoming flexible is not easy. It requires work to keep things stretched out. I’d witnessed flexibility for years watching Jeanie. As a gymnast, she has amazing flexibility. I watch her stretch and it’s scary. Like “Gumby” (remember Gumby?), she can move her arms and legs in all kinds of directions with little effort. Not me. I’m as tight as “ballet tights on an offensive lineman.” But there’s more to flexibility than just stretching a few muscles. Having flexibility in life is a lot more important. Someone defined flexibility as, “being open to the plans and ideas of others, and willing to be instructed and challenged to change for the better.” We have to be willing to bend; if not, our relationships will break. Flexibility helps us see the big picture ad how people and events are all interlinked with a sovereign God in charge. In this way, we can see that our plans and ways are not autonomous; we can trust God, go with His flow, and make the most of opportunities and relationships. Therefore, we will be able to make changes in our plans and ideas to accommodate others, and fit the situation, centered upon God. It’s not easy for tight people like me, but as I regularly do the exercises, the flexibility grows. Inflexibility, stubbornness, conceit, and self-importance are all opposites of flexibility. These traits are steeped in pride and to our loving and Holy Lord, they are repulsive. We see ourselves as the center, the key to the universe or, at the very least, of what and who is around us. Therefore, we base all of our decisions on our needs and feelings, ignoring others, not seeing the big picture or being accommodating in order to make the right decisions and go in the right directions. P-R-I-D-E, with a capital “I” right in the middle (literally). We are tight when we try to run and “go” even though we feel the pain in the midst of the workout and beyond. Be willing to be flexible. Be willing to stretch your will to allow God to have His way in His plans and way. Sure, set goals and be prepared, but do those stretching exercises. That way, when the plans change (and they will), you will be okay with the new direction. Remember, “Father knows best.” His way is the best way, whether it makes sense or not. We need to keep up the stretching by going to Jesus regularly and submitting to His way. We may not all be ready to do back flips… …but we’ll be secure enough to let His way prevail. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

No comments: