Flexibility is all about the ability to bend as much as possible without snapping into two pieces. If something breaks, it isn’t flexible; it’s just broken.
Some things have more flexibility than others. A Snickers bar will bend for a bit before it loses its ability to hold together. A Red Vine can almost be tied in a knot. Both things are flexible but one is damaged much more quickly.
People have different levels of flexibility as well. There’s a guy at the gym I go to who can do the splits. We all know this because he’s constantly doing them in front of us.
I mostly bend at the waist.
I could probably be more flexible, but that would take about 15 minutes of stretching before and after I work out. That’s a half hour that I’d rather spend doing something else.
A physiologist would tell you that I’m spending my mornings risking a serious injury, especially as I get older. It will take a substantial amount of discipline to change my routine.
No one likes messing, or having someone else mess with, with our routine.
This is also true spiritually, especially in circumstances that are not at all what we are used to. In difficult situations, flexibility becomes essential to our success… and I’m no longer talking about doing stretches.
Our ability to set aside what we feel like doing so that we can pay attention to what Jesus is doing is a spot-on definition of spiritual flexibility.
This is weighted against the fact that we each have things that we are “supposed to do”, and getting them done is often our definition of success.
I’m pretty sure that’s not Jesus’ definition of success:
“…Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:38-42
Jesus’ definition of success wasn’t about “getting things done”, it was about listening to his voice so we would know “what to get done”.
Jesus wasn’t concerned about dinner, Martha was. Martha didn’t know what Jesus was concerned about, because she wasn’t listening to him.
What seemed like a tremendous amount of discipline in the area of meal preparation was actually a refusal to have her routine messed with. The routine was sacred to her.
She was wasting her time on something worthless.
She was so focused on “getting things done” that she was completely inflexible about “what people should be doing”.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
That inflexibility caused her to snap.
Most of the time spent on this passage is focused on Martha’s snapping, but consider where she directed her snapping. Martha didn’t snap at Mary, she snapped at Jesus.
“This isn’t fair, make her do some work!”
I’m sure Mary got a couple of weapons-grade “stink eyes” before Martha went after Jesus, but Martha lost her cool in the direction of Jesus. That’s who she blamed for her mistreatment.
Of course Jesus didn’t fall for her blaming him. He knew exactly where the problem lay and he wasn’t about to let her off the hook.
Martha thought that the problem was with Mary’s work ethic. Then she thought it was with Jesus’ sense of justice and fairness.
The real problem was Martha’s self-centeredness.
Her selfish desires had rendered her inflexible.
Her inflexibility caused her to snap.
Martha was all too willing to blame Jesus for her problems.
When we are willing to take time to listen to Jesus, we feel him move our hearts in the direction that we wants us to go, and we will know the things that Jesus wants us to do.
Doing this is what keeps us flexible, and doing the things that Jesus calls us to do will never break us… even though he’s going to ask a lot of us.
Like giving up our routines,
confronting our opinions,
reminding us we’re the problem.
When I find myself behind schedule, with my routine blown to bits, blaming God for my burdens I have to ask myself:
“Is this something that HE asked me to do, or is it something I’m just compelled to do?”
“Is accomplishing my will more important to me than his?”
“Is my routine more sacred to me than God?”
“What keeps me from spending time listening to Jesus?”
Our flexibility is all about the ability to be bent as much as possible to the will of God without snapping into pieces. When something breaks, it wasn’t flexible; just broken.