“But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you.”
Ever stretched a rubber band to its breaking point? You know…gripped both sides and pulled hard in opposite directions until the tension was so great, the thing just snapped?
Or maybe as you were pulling, one side slipped from your fingers, or you released it too soon, causing the rubber band to either slingshot into some unsuspecting victim, or snap back on your own fingers causing an instant stinging discomfort?
Rubber bands were made to be resilient – it is an essential characteristic of their function. By the nature of their design, they were made to be stretched beyond their “resting” shape, to even double or triple in size, only to return to it’s original form once released, securing anything within its inner boundaries, and holding it together. Yet in spite of the rubber band’s flexible design, even this object has a limit on its capacity for stretching, and how much “stuff” it can hold together, often predetermined by its thickness, bandwidth, and suppleness (or lack thereof).
Thick skin can handle the stretching.
The thinner the rubber band, the easier it is to stretch, yet the more likely it is to break. Likewise, a thin-skinned individual is easily moved or put off by the actions, criticism, or pressures of others. They quickly become stretched to their breaking point, becoming exasperated and snapping at those around them, unable to readily “bounce back” from life’s challenges. On the other hand, individuals described as having thick skin are often difficult to move, disturb or perturb based on the influence or impact of another person’s actions or life circumstances. Their capacity for criticism is thus much higher, enabling them to “go the distance” and often find great personal satisfaction and success. Like a thick rubber band, they have the strength and fortitude to stretch gradually, growing in capacity, but not being broken by the stretching.
Adding to our ability to withstand the stretching of life, is our bandwidth and suppleness or elasticity. These characteristics are a reflection of how much depth we have to who we are, and the impact that our surroundings, our environment or the elements have had on us. Again, the wider the rubber band, the more difficult it is to break as it stretches. However if that same rubber band has been left out in adverse conditions too long it can become dry and brittle, cracking in places where it should simply stretch, unable to bear the weight of the thing it should hold.
The dimensions, stretch-iness, width, and thickness of our lives, like the rubber bands, are all dependent on what the Creator intended us to hold.
For some of us, we are like the children of Israel, needing to possess the promises of God gradually to prevent us from becoming discouraged and coming apart. The step by step process give us a chance to become accustomed to each level of stretching, enabling us to endure longer. For others of us, we can be stretched almost to our limits, and still hold it together, enabling us to cover more ground and hold more all at once rather than needing the step by step process.
Whatever the category we fall in, remember that we have all been uniquely created and prepared for our life’s assignment. We have been allocated a Divinely determined amount of strength for our stretching process, so that we can possess the Promise and not be utterly destroyed by it.
Embrace your strength, endure the stretching, and experience the promises of God for your life!