One of my favorite animations is The Incredibles. Something about the family unit working together to uphold good and defeat evil makes me cheer them on! Throughout the movie, I could wish to be any one of the characters, able to overcome any obstacle that came my way. Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, with his massive strength. Violet Parr with her ability to create force fields to protect them all. Dash with his lightening speed. Jack-Jack with his multiple superhuman abilities. The one that I connect with the most, however, is Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl.
Ah, yes. She is my hero. She can stretch pencil thin, and in the next moment go wide to create a life-saving parachute. She can send her arms around a corner of a building, all without moving her body an inch. If there’s any superhero I’d like to be, it would be Elastigirl. Oh, the love of flexibility.
The word “flexible” means “capable of bending easily without breaking.” Yes, that would be Elastigirl! But further insight into the word reveals this definition: “ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.” Ouch!
I’m a scheduled and structured person in nature, and prefer my plans not to change at the last minute. As a married woman, however, I’ve had to be a bit more flexible with my schedule since Michael Madrid is very spontaneous. One minute I’m relaxing comfortably at home, and the next heading out of town to visit family and friends. In such cases, the character trait of “flexibleness” is necessary!
Giving up our daily plans or schedules, however, is far less challenging than giving up our life dreams and careers. We can do without that nap in order to go shopping. We can bypass dinner out in order to get a project done. But to change a dream, a home, and a location takes much more strength.
That’s exactly what God told Abraham to do in Genesis 12:1: “Now the Lord had said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country, from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.’”
This was not your average instruction! It was not a simple request to move across town, or to change vocations. It was not even a command to clean out the bank account to feed the poor. The only instruction to follow was to go to a land Abraham knew nothing about. No map or tourist flyer was provided. No heads up on weather conditions or how long it would take. The command was simply to go.
Unlike many of us, Abraham didn’t put up a fight or argue deep into the night. He did just as he was instructed, packing up his goods and family and heading off into the great unknown. He kicked flexibility into high gear as he left behind everything he had ever known with only God’s Word to guide him. To his countryman, it was suicide; but to Abraham, it was pure obedience.
Choosing to be flexible with our plans when God gives us an instruction can either be a joy or a pain. It all depends on our heart attitude. Are we living for ourselves and for our own agenda, or are we submitting our agenda to God’s?
Our schedules, dreams, and plans don’t belong to us any more than our bodies do once we have been born again (I Corinthians 6:20). When Jesus is made Lord, everything about us goes to Him – spirit, soul, and body (I Thessalonians 5:23). We then have the choice to make. We can either put on our “happy face” and joyfully obey His instructions, or we can kick and scream at being asked to do something that makes us uncomfortable. Either way respond there will be a corresponding reward – blessing or no blessing.
As we read through the next several chapters of Genesis, we see Abraham’s confidence in God’s promises rise and fall as he hit impossible challenges. In the end, however, all of God’s promises came true as Abraham was flexible enough to get back on track. “‘I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Genesis 12:2, 3).
We should thank God for Abraham’s flexibility. He paved the way for God to create a great nation that later extended into the Gentile world through Jesus Christ. He is considered the father of the faith, not because of his riches and wit, but because of his obedience. Elastigirl may have amazing elasticity to save the day, but she has nothing on Abraham. His elasticity reached clear around the world.
“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19