One of the toys I had as a kid was ‘Stretch Armstrong’. He was a poseable action figure like no other. Some may call him a doll. The haters. But I will tell you this. Stretch wasn’t like a fragile porcelain doll. I don’t remember if Armstrong belonged to me or my brother. Sometimes we would argue over it… which was fine. I would get one arm, he would get the other, and we would pull as hard as we could. Poor Armstrong’s body would be distorted beyond reason. When we were done pulling, there Stretch would be, normal size torso, legs, and head… but arms stretched out beyond reason. Then over the next couple of minutes he would go back to normal size. He was literally amazing. He was tough. You could stand on him, wrap him around a chair, and throw him against the side of the house. It didn’t seem to phase him. It was very difficult to pull him out of shape, but Stretch Armstrong was certainly the most durable fake man I ever knew.
A little history on Stretch for those of you unfortunate kiddos who didn't know him. - Stretch Armstrong was an action figure in the shape of a short, well-muscled blonde man wearing a black speedo. The doll's most notable feature was that it could be stretched from its original size (about 15 inches) to four or five feet. (If a tear did develop, it could be fixed with an adhesive bandage.) Stretch Armstrong is made of latex rubber filled with gelled corn syrup, which allows it to retain shape for a short time before shrinking to its original shape. [Wikipedia]
Some things are durable. They retain their shape. They hold up under pressure. They are strong. They just last. Do whatever you want to them, and they just don’t break. They don’t fade. They don’t disintegrate under strain. They are built to last, and they last. You’ve probably seen these products late at night on TV infomercials. The host takes the item and tries to break it. He takes a hammer to it. He drives over it with a truck. He submerges it in water. No matter what he does, the item is not phased. It comes back looking as good as ever… and working as good as new.
Endurance is a very desirable trait in products. It is also a desirable trait in people, and relationships. Durability is built into some things, like vehicles. It is inherent in other things, like granite. Often times we try to match in manufacturing what God did in nature. Durability is important because it speaks to quality and value. You don’t want to have to buy new pots and pans after every meal. A pot that couldn’t endure heat would be a waste. An umbrella that could not endure water would be a horrible investment. A friend that is only good through the good times and up to the first struggle would not be worth having.
To endure is to undergo something as a hardship, especially without giving in; and to continue in the same state… to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding. You want the things you buy to endure the test of time. You want your people to do the same thing. Psssttt… they want the same out of you.
The apostle Paul understood this. So when he wrote about the topic of love to the first generation of Christians he said this, “Love endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Love goes through it, and comes out on the other side… usually better. Love has endurance. It must, or it isn’t true love. Paul knew a bit about love and endurance. He loved Jesus, and went through shipwrecks, beatings, sickness, and even death in order to serve the One he loved. Paul also loved people, and endured the same things to serve them. Along the way he was bitten by poisonous snakes, and poisonous people. It didn’t change him in a negative way.
Each of us will be tested by life and by people… and yes, by God. Our durability will be put on trial. When you are twisted, stretched, beat down, and submerged, will you endure, or will you fall apart? Today, will you endure those people in your life who it seems are put there to break your love? Sometimes people just want to see if what you have is natural, or if it is manufactured.
Sometimes we treat love like it is a porcelain doll, best admired when set on a shelf away from any chance of trouble. But can I tell you that love is more like Stretch Armstrong? It is to be used, pulled at, and twisted, so it can prove its value in our lives. Will you be a china doll today, or a Stretch Armstrong? Stretch worked because of the mixture of materials in him. The same is true with you and your love.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.