Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about being mentally flexible. My best friend Jane does my promotional work, and I call her a river; every time Facebook blocks her from going one way, she believes for the Lord to show her a different way around. Our dance with disappointment is brief. We believe “God will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). He always does. That’s why we know we need to be open to the Holy Spirit guiding us in a different direction if necessary.
When we feel that we’re on the right track and it’s God’s will, nothing can stop us, but we may have to be a little flexible in our ideas about how it happens. We can’t be making all kinds of our own rules about how we think we should always be doing things, or always be thinking. We need to open our hearts to God and let Him direct our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 says: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” In other words, we can get to know what’s really in our hearts, what we truly want, but only the Lord can help us get there. If we try to direct our ways, without asking for the Lord’s guidance, it’s not going to work out as well. The Lord knows the end from the beginning, and we don’t. Jesus Christ is the leader; we follow. He is very concerned about each individual’s path.
When we make too many rules for ourselves, we can become too brittle we break. When something new comes up, we halt and get mad or scared or both. We get even more determined to defend our firm beliefs instead of being willing to look at something in a new way. Instead of staying tender-hearted toward God, we get hard-hearted and refuse to budge.
That’s what happened to the Pharisees. They knew it was God’s will to heal people, but they also knew that the Law of Moses said they weren’t supposed to do any work on the Sabbath. They became overbearingly inflexible about not working on the Sabbath to the point that when Jesus went to heal a man on the Sabbath, they couldn’t take it. They were not going to be flexible about their rules, even when it came to someone who desperately needed help. They wouldn’t even listen to Jesus:
“And he [Jesus] entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, ‘Stand forth.’
“And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness [blindness] of their hearts, he saith unto the man, ‘Stretch forth thine hand.’ And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea” (Mark 3:1-7).
I know none of us would want to be as rigid and ridiculous as the Pharisees. We don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture. When obstacles come up against the traditions and rules we’ve set up, we want to let the Holy Spirit take us around some new bends in the stream and teach us some new things. It may be more thrilling and more satisfying than we ever imagined.
Let’s keep our hearts tender and flexible, open to Lord’s leading, even if it means going in a slightly different direction or considering something we haven’t taken into account before. Let the Lord open new doors. The Bible tells us there will always be things for us to discover if we’re willing. We never know it all, and that’s a good thing.
Life is to be a flow, not a stagnant pool. And God delights in being our father, teaching us new things. He wants us to be thankful to Him for the new things we learn. Just like any father wants his child to look up to him and appreciate what he teaches him. God wants the same from us. God will always know more than we do, so we need to be humble and flexible in our thinking.
Isaiah speaks God’s message to the people of Israel: “I have shown thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.”
Let’s keep moving forward as children of a loving father, God, without fear. He will continue to teach those of us who are willing to be flexible. He’ll guide us, take care of us, and show us new things.
QUESTIONS AND EASY CHALLENGES
- Have you ever gotten stiff from standing, sitting, or sleeping in one position for a long time? Describe it. What action did you take to alleviate the stiffness?
- Describe a situation where you had to be more flexible than you maybe wanted to be.
- Have you been in a situation where you believed something was right and much later found out it wasn’t? Describe it.
- Recall a circumstance where you or someone you know remained rigid like the Pharisees on some rule that was kind of foolish.
- How have you been flexible in the past month?
- Are you exploring anything new in the Bible at the moment? Or anything new in life in general? What are you learning?
- Have you ever put unreasonably rigid rules on yourself? How did it make you feel? What did you do about it?
This is a sample book with 6 of the 61 chapters from the complete book. These chapters are true life stories about the tremendous and varied benefits you can receive from making a commitment to the Lord. There are pertinent questions at the end of each inspiring story to help you see where you can apply what you’ve learned for a more exciting and satisfying life.
If you can’t get it on Amazon, let me know, and I’ll send a pdf or word doc to your email. firstname.lastname@example.org