To be Stretched...
"How stupid is that? You may as well have a piece of rope attached to your leg."
Not typically how a salesman approaches their next target but I couldn't have bought a new leg rope faster. I don't know if it was to end the conversation and save face or because I genuinely needed a new one so much. But I've never given away money so readily and felt so relieved about it.
You see I had just trialled a new leg rope that was touted as unbreakable, never needing a replacement. It arrived from the US and as a result, cost a fortune, but with the hopes of never having to buy another leg rope, I thought it was a worthy investment. As it came out of its packaging I gave it the leggie pull test to see how much stretch there was.
I knew something wasn't quite right but with a shrug of the shoulders and the latest technology attached I headed out for a surf. It was genuinely terrifying the force and violence that board and leg rope were using to try and displace every sinew and bone between my right ankle and hip. It nearly pulled my leg off. The slightest bit of energy heading shoreward would cause a tremendous amount of stress to my body and unbeknownst to me the board as well.
And for some reason, I just kept at it. Maybe it was the amount of money I'd spent. Two months later it happened, a small wave approached me not giving me enough time to grab the board and duck dive, so in the waist deep water, I dived under and waited for the traditional leg ropes attempt at leg mutilation. Only to experience the new and relieving feeling of having the board not offer any resistance. But the sense of relief was replaced shortly by abject horror as I turned to watch my board make its way to shore minus the leg rope plug. Which had been pulled out of the board and was still attached to my leg rope and I.
Now if you read The Short History of Legropes the first problems with the leg rope were that they were rope — a bit of nylon wrapped around a leg. Needless to say that without any give they didn't take off (think story above) and so weren't patented. In contrast to this and at the other end of the extreme was a length of surgical tubing wrapped around the wrist and affixed to the surfboard by a suction cup. It was the mockingly labelled a “kook cord”, and it had so much stretch that, Jack O'Neil the Santa Cruz legend, lost an eye when his board attacked him by springing back due to his son's invention in 1973.
It seems to me that with leg ropes just right is somewhere in between, which has got me thinking that maybe it's the same with faith when it works best. We need something that holds us together but has some give, some movement. A faith that doesn't break the relationship we have with God or the people around us. On the other hand it’s not helpful to have a faith with so much movement or stretch that it turns us or our relationships or our God into out of control projectiles.
As the world around us shifts and moves it seems that the Christian faith is only alive when it is listening, adapting, innovating and accommodating. When it lets go of anything that's in the way of Jesus. Or in other words when it embraces the moments where God is stretching us...
Because when God is stretching us, that's when we become more and more the people God wants us to be.
May you be stretched this year.