The Bends

Principle: “When it’s time to grow, change your bends.”
We were cleaning up our family room and study – all part of rearranging the rooms of our house to make room for some of our family to live with us for a while. One of my projects was to gather up all the old cables, cords, and wires and either dispose of them or organize them for storage in one relatively small place. Sounded simple enough – until I realized how many such cables, cords, and wires there were!
Not to be deterred, I diligently gathered them all together, sorted them out, dumped some, and contemplated what to do with the ones remaining. I found a suitable box so decided to wind up or fold each cable, cord, and wire and bind it with a twisty. In doing so it quickly became obvious that some of the thicker, heavier cables had a mind of their own. They still bent in the same places as they did when I bought them – and they weren’t about to bend in any other place. Thick and tough, once bent in a certain place, they have always bent there. They seemed to holler out, “Bent this way when I was born, be bent this way until I die!” “Stubborn cables,” I thought. “What good is a cable with no flexibility? To be more useful they should bend in different places!”
Then it hit me – I wonder how many of my bends and folds are still the same as they were years ago? Do I still bend and resist at all the same places or or have I become flexible enough to grow and be more useful? What good is a person with no flexibility?I was learning the lesson: “When it’s time to grow, change your bends.” I think that’s what Jesus was teaching when He said (Matthew 9:16-17) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” “When it’s time to grow, change your bends.” Goatskins were used for holding wine, and as fresh grape juice fermented the wine would expand and stretch the skin. Old skins, no longer able to stretch and expand, would break; only new skins could hold the new wine. Jesus was saying that He brings new life that cannot be contained in the old skins; unless a person is willing to change and grow – to bend and fold in new places and ways – he or she will miss out on the full, abundant life Jesus offers. In fact, this full, abundant life may even break us if we’re unwilling to change and grow. “When it’s time to grow, change your bends.”
We all tend to resist change and growth to a certain degree – and usually to out peril. But if we want to experience more of Jesus’ life and power within us,  we must change our bends.  “I’ve worshiped this way since I was born, and will worship this way until I die!” “Always sung only hymns and will sing only hymns until I die.” “Always given this much and will give this much until they carry me out the church door.” “Always prayed this way and always will.” “Never raised my hands in church and never will.” “We’ve never done it this way before, and we never will.” “Never _________ and never ________.”
You can fill in the blanks.  The point is, what bends and folds do you need to release? Where do you resist the prompting and power of the Spirit? Where are you missing out on the abundant life Jesus is offering you? Where do you need to bend and fold, to be more flexible? Where do you need to be open to change?  Jesus is waiting to pour His new wine into you – lack of wine is not the issue. The issue is, can you hold it? What kind of skin are you  – and what kind do you want to be? “When it’s time to grow, change your bends.”

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