My Dad had an atypical extension ladder. It was a wonder. Of course, it did the normal ladder thing – allowed you to climb up and reach a place you could not access on your own. However, it also had hinges along its edges at intervals. These hinges allowed the user to make the ladder long, medium or short. The ladder could bend horizontally at a hinge so you could crawl across it after you ascended vertically. It could create a U shape (or more practically, an upside-down U shape.) It could become an upside-down V and be perfect for a painting job. It could fold up and become easy to store. Do you see why I call it a wonder?
My Dad’s amazing ladder is a great image for how we extend grace. We all have a normal “resting” posture. This is where we function day to day and are productive. When we are called on to extend beyond our routine, it takes an added measure of energy. Extending implies a stretch beyond the norm. This stretch could require physical, mental or emotional energy, or all three.
What does all this have to do with grace? When we encounter situations beyond our life’s experience, or people exhibiting behavior and emotions outside our comfort zone, grace finds a way to reach. Sometimes this grace is a simple extending of the ladder; sometimes the grace required causes us to feel contorted into an upside-down U-shape.
Remember, the ladder is built for this; so also, the word, grace, implies reaching. It is not unable to extend into a new shape, if all is within working order. We also, if all is in good working order, can flex beyond the familiar. Perhaps we have never been called on to extend in this particular way before. That doesn’t mean we cannot.
Flexibility and extension are indications of a well-used and well-cared-for ladder. They are also indications of a graceful person (think dancer) and a grace-filled life. Remember the “Gumby Principle?” It goes something like this: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.” We may need to work on building more hinges into our lives, or on keeping the hinges we do have well oiled.
I’d love to hear some examples from you as to how you are being stretched into a type of extension ladder. Does it get easier the more you use that “hinge?’