Here in North America, many of us live lifestyles marked by laziness, creature comforts, lack of exercise, and plenty of unhealthy food. We all know where this lifestyle leads. Despite our infatuation with our body image, obesity has become a major problem in our society. And we know that although fat is a part of our bodies, it is not good to have too much of it—and boy is it hard to get rid of it!

Yet for Christians, being FAT is a key to effective ministry. No longer referring to excess body weight, being FAT is a way of living—Flexible, Adaptable, and Teachable.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'”

-James 4:13-15 (NIV)

James gives a good reminder. Scripture shows us that we have no control over our lives. As my pastor emphasized, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live.” Even living is not in our control. We need to live with our plans in an open hand. We need to live FAT.

While I first heard of this acronym when preparing for a short term missions trip, it applies to all of life as followers of Christ whether here in Canada or across the world. Even more so today, people are being given many opportunities to practice flexibility, adaptability and teachability.

Every few weeks, new mandates are issued by our government instructing us who we can have in our homes, what places we can go shopping, what is “essential” for living, where we need to wear masks, what kind of masks are acceptable, how far away we need to stay from people—how we do life. Because of this, everyone is forced into situations where they need to practice being flexible and adaptable. As Christians knowing that God is in control, we need to be an example of how to do this well—even joyfully.

This semester, Emanate is navigating how to effectively do online classes. While not preferable, it is so much better than not doing classes at all. Though each of these new safety guidelines introduced because of COVID-19 pose a challenge, they also present an opportunity. We have the choice whether to be teachable and see what God would have us learn through it or become bitter and upset about circumstances beyond our control. Being FAT is not easy. It takes much work. Thriving requires an eternal perspective.

Ethnos Canada missionaries Jeremy and Kim Wardlaw recently shared with us in Chapel about life for them as they adjust to living on the field. One thing that is different for them is the lack of running water in their house. While there are a few different ways that they can obtain this precious commodity, any option is inconvenient compared to turning on the tap. What is taken for granted in Canada has required the Wardlaws to be flexible and adaptable in the way they receive and use their water.

Another example is the many health issues that missionaries face as they endeavor to take the gospel to the least reached. Some have been unable to leave Canada and have needed to adjust to the new plan God has in store for them. Others have had to leave a work and a people group they love because they need medical care. Leaving the field can be a hard choice. Yet in each of these situations, there is a need to be flexible, adaptable and teachable.

Plans will change, yet each change is an opportunity to trust God and be taught by Him. He is doing His work in each of us even as we endeavor to serve Him. And no matter what comes up, God will turn it to work out for good and for His glory.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”

-Romans 11:33-36 (NIV)

May you be encouraged to be FAT—flexible, adaptable and teachable—as you face each new day. Who knows who God will bring into your path or what your day will bring. Keep your eyes on Him and watch for opportunities to grow in your faith and be a light to the world as you love the Lord.