The Snapping of Rubber Bands
I’ve never been able to properly shoot a rubber band. I can get it all wound around my hand, position myself in front of my target, point with perfect precision and angle: but when I shoot, it always snaps backward. Always ending up with the rubber band still in my hand and with a pretty big sting to go along with the epic fail I created. This happens because I have no clue what I am doing, yet I do it anyway.
Each and every time.
The same can be said of those times when I pull my own will ahead of God’s will for me. In fact, I think we all do this. I mean, we are constantly moving forward. It seems to be the way humans are wired. But more often than not, we try to pull and stretch things in all sorts of directions—other than where God intends for us to go.
At first is seems okay. We stretch our will just enough to get a glimpse of what could be. We like what we see, so we keep stretching it. Like it is all going to work out perfectly in our favor. But with each step we take ahead of God’s, we stretch the rubber band. With each big decision we make without praying, we stretch the rubber band a little more. With each selfish motive we push, we stretch the rubber band all the more.
… until it snaps and we realize once again, that our will isn’t best. And sometimes, our will hurts when it snaps back like that. Just a like rubber band that isn’t properly set up for shooting—Or a rubber band that is stretched beyond what it was created to go.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”’ Matthew 16:24-25
When reading this bit of scripture, I am reminded of A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God” — the chapter of “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing.” The most incredible section of this chapter is Tozer’s depiction of Abraham’s “ah-ha” moment.
In Genesis, God asks Abraham to kill his son to prove his loyalty to Him alone. That’s a huge ask, huh? Abraham’s son was the only thing Abraham ever wanted, the only thing he had ever asked for. While God stopped Abraham right before he killed his son, the moment just before God stopped him, is when Abraham is fully surrendered. You can see it. It is when Abraham sees with new eyes, just how amazing it feels to put God above all else: even if it meant letting go of the only thing he had ever held dear: his own son.
But why did God go to such drastic measure to test Abraham?
From Tozer: “The old man of God [Abraham] lifted his head to respond to the Voice [God], and stood there on the mount strong and pure and grand, a man marked out by the Lord for special treatment, a friend and favorite of the Most High. Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing. He had concentrated his all in the person of his dear son, and God had taken it from him. God could have begun out on the margin of Abraham’s life and worked inward to the center; He chose rather to cut quickly to the heart and have it over in one sharp act of separation. In dealing thus He practiced an economy of means and time. It hurt cruelly, but it was effective.”
It hurt CRUELLY but it was EFFECTIVE.
Same thing happens with the rubber bands in our lives. In those times when we put our own will, ambition, joys and desires ahead of God’s. Doing this stretches the rubber band to the point of snapping. And it hurts. But when we surrender our will; surrender our desires; our own selfish ambition: it proves our loyalty and absolute obedience to God. And while it took some hurt to do that, God’s love restores it and sets us up for something even greater: Him…
So, consider where you and where you are going. Are you stretching a rubber band farther than it should go? If so, what rubber band in your life needs to be released today?