Gardening · Psalm 92 · Spirituality

Staying bendable

How bendable are you?

I’ve been thinking about this question as I walk around my yard on these balmy Spring days. The world is greening up, the sun is warm, and the days are getting longer. My flowers and plants are pushing their heads up out of their winter sleep to bask in the sunshine.

Each day is a treasure hunt as I poke around the flower beds and look for sprouts coming up from under the ground. I survey the saplings that I planted this time last year, twisting their little limbs in my fingers. If the branch bends, I rejoice that the tree is still alive. If it is hard and breaks off, I know that, sadly, it did not make it through the winter.

If being bendable is a sign of life for my plants, what does it mean in my life?  Am I growing and thriving, or getting stiff and rigid?

How bendable am I?

One of my baby trees budding out!

I have certainly learned that my body quickly becomes unbendable if I’m not making an effort to keep it moving. If I spend too much time sitting on the couch, I soon get ‘stove up.’ I’ve taken up swimming a few times a week at the local pool and love how it makes me feel. Walking, working in the yard, and stretching are all important for my ‘senior’ years.

My mind needs to stay bendable and growing too. Each evening for the past few weeks, I have put my brain to figuring out Wordle and Quordle. I look forward to the challenge each day. I feel so smart when I figure them out without giving in to hints!

Perhaps most importantly though, my spiritual muscles need to stay pliable. If you have grown up in the church like me, it is easy to get into a boring rut when it comes to our Christian lives. We can feel like we have heard it all before. Before I know it, I have become rigid and unbending in my attitudes and have stopped growing. Familiar passages just wash over me, not touching any part of my daily life.

These verses from Psalm 92 spoke to me this week as I thought about the need to stay bendable in my spiritual life:

“The righteous will spring up like a palm tree.
    They will grow strong like a cedar of Lebanon.
13 Those who have been replanted in the Lord’s house
    will spring up in the courtyards of our God.
14 They will bear fruit even when old and gray;
    they will remain lush and fresh 15 in order to proclaim:
      “The Lord is righteous. He’s my rock.
        There’s nothing unrighteous in him.” (Psalm 92:12-14, CEB)

I want to be strong like that cedar of Lebanon replanted in the Lord’s house. I want to keep bearing fruit now that I am old and gray so that I can proclaim what God has done for me. I don’t want to get stiff and stagnant in my relationship to God.

I also love these verses from Psalm 1:

“Blessed people are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
which bears fruit at just the right time
and whose leaves don’t fade.
Whatever they do succeeds.” (Psalm 1: 3)

According to these passages, the secret to staying fruit-bearing is to stay in the Lord’s courtyard and be fed by the streams of water. For me, that means studying, praying, and keeping myself open to new ideas.

Through my Audible subscription I have access to the Great Courses lectures. Right now I’m listening to The Making of the New Testament Canon and enjoying a review of classes I took years ago in seminary. Looking at a familiar Bible story from a scholarly viewpoint, learning about the time in which the Bible was written, exploring the worldview of the Jewish people in Jesus’ life — all of these keep my spiritual life fresh. I don’t have to agree with everything I read, but those “aha” moments when I get a new insight are life-giving.

What are you doing to stay alive and bendable? I would love to hear your comments!

Here are a few books that I have read recently that have given me a different perspective and challenged my beliefs:

  • The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: My Journey into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began, by Kathy Lee Gifford and Rabbi Jason Sobel
  • Irresistible: Reclaiming the New That Jesus Unleashed for the World, by Andy Stanley
  • Live in Grace, Walk in Love, by Bob Goff
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr

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