January 29th, 2021
My New Favorite Word
This past week I had an encouraging encounter with one of our CCS grandparents. As is so common in our current context, the grandparent was helping with the transportation of some of our JH/HS students due to their unique schedules. On their drive home, this conscious-stricken grandparent suddenly became alerted that perhaps there was another student who was supposed to be in their carpool whom they may have left behind. So they turned around and returned to campus to enlist our staff to make sure the student was where they were supposed to be.
We confirmed quite quickly that the student had indeed been transported home through other means despite some unintended miscommunication. I remarked to the gracious grandparent, “Patience and flexibility. They seem like our new reality.” The grandparent paused, stared into space for a few seconds, then clarified, “Actually, all we need is flexibility, because patience is always built into flexibility.”
I have been reflecting on these wise words the past few days and currently have a new favorite word: FLEXIBILITY! I love its definition of “being able to bend easily without breaking.” With so many circumstances out of our control that often seem to drive us to our breaking point, our interactions with each other should not contribute to this breaking point, but rather relieve it. The familiar statement from Paul “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” declared a lifestyle of flexibility. Whatever the situation: hunger, abundance, carline, masks, no water, new restrictions, and ongoing ups and downs, we are intended to bend and not break through the help of Jesus living through us.
Jesus confirmed that the two greatest commands are to simply love God and love others. This small moment with this grandparent was a reminder of the many faithful parents, grandparents, teachers, and students who daily demonstrate flexibility in their interactions with others. I am encouraged to daily respond in love and obedience to God and in love and grace with others. Flexibility is often most available, effective, and consistent when connected to a fixed point. We rejoice in the absolute truth of the rock of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His presence in us to be flexible in the world.
Lessons from the Coast
I regularly enjoy weekend trips to the Oregon Coast to slip away from the weekly routine and be refreshed in an often stunning landscape. Especially during the winter, the Oregon beaches are in constant change. With the seasonal “king tides” and constant storms, familiar beaches are often transformed into new and unique landscapes. I often question what were the forces that created those changes and the new beauty I observe.
Jesus’ disciples were constantly doing the same thing during His 3-year ministry. As they attempted to understand the Messiah and figure out the Kingdom of God, they questioned the causes behind their circumstances. One day as they were walking with Jesus and saw a man blind from birth, they asked “Who sinned that this man was born blind? Him or his parents?” (John 9)
Like many of us often do, they were asking the wrong question. The lens in which they viewed the situation was not through the knowledge of an eternal Creator but through their own limited constructs. They brought human assumptions which prevented them from understanding the will of God. In their attempt to understand the calamity that this man experienced, they only considered two possible causes.
Fortunately, Jesus was able to set them straight. He said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him?” The disciples were asking if the answer to their question was “a” or “b”, while Jesus provided the truth of the matter with option “c”. The true reason was that God’s glory might be revealed.
In this season, there are calamities afflicting each of us. As disciples of Jesus we also ask “Why”, but often with assumptions that limit a correct Christian worldview. Blindness is certainly a significant hardship. Yet how might the disciples, much less the blind man, have experienced the situation if they understood how God actively works through challenging circumstances for His glory. How encouraging to know that the current hardships we face are filled with opportunity for God’s glory to be manifested through Jesus living through us!
We know that God is not the author of the sin that exists in this world. Everything that is broken is a result of the adversary, the devil, the deceiver of the whole world. But through the gospel God allows us to walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Just as Jesus’ disciples continued to grow in their understanding of the Kingdom of God, may we do the same. The next time you find yourself walking on an Oregon coast beach be reminded of the power of God to use all things for His glory!