I’ve been going to PT recently. It seems that as a result of lugging my heavy camera and computer gear around Swaziland, I’ve developed tendonitis in both elbows. In addition to the heat and cold and e-stim and other PT tricks, I’ve been given a number of exercises and stretches aimed at improving my posture and thus relieving stress on my arm muscles. I don’t mind the exercises—they’re pretty easy and relatively painless. But the stretches—they’re killing me! It seems I’m not as flexible as I used to be.
While my body gets stiffer and less agile, God is clearly teaching me to be more flexible in other areas. Just in the last three days, I’ve had to cancel and/or reschedule six different appointments—and not one of them was because of me! From a photo shoot to a volunteer commitment at church to an appointment with a financial advisor to a lab test, something came up, someone got sick, someone forgot to notify me of a change—and I had to flex.
I’m a bit chagrined that it took all six changes before I realized that maybe something more than coincidence was involved. The first day I was frustrated. The second day I griped and grumbled. By the third day—”Sorry, my calendar didn’t sync and I’m double-booked—you’ll have to come back next week”—I was beginning to vent when God cleared His throat and got my attention.
My recent mission trip should have prepared me for this. As we got ready to go I would remind myself to stay flexible. No one can really plan a trip to Africa; you just have to flex with the flow. I was expecting things to change, so when they did it was no big deal. When the weather, which was supposed to be hot and dry, turned cold and rainy, we adjusted. When I found myself unable to eat the food provided, I prayed for the hungry (and ate some almonds and jerky later that night). When the pastor we were supposed to meet for church turned out to be in another country, we held our own church service.
But now that I’m back in the U.S. of A. I find myself expecting things to go according to my schedule. In fact, I expect this so much that when I got an email telling me that the date of a meeting at which I am invited to speak is actually a week or so later than what they had initially said—making it more convenient for me—my first reaction was to grumble! How pathetic can I get?
I’m glad that God hasn’t given up on me in this area. I like to think that as my body ages, sounding like a bowl of Rice Crispies and milk when I stretch, at least my attitude is getting more flexible. This is just one more way in which I need to die to myself and let God be God. From my viewpoint these are frustrated expectations. I wonder, what do they look like from God’s perspective?
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)