I wrestled with the title of this week’s post. But as I’ve gone about my daily routine stretching has been a constant theme. Here are a few examples. Over the holidays, I took a break from my usual workout. As I resumed my fitness activities, the need to stretch was necessary.
The next stretch occurred when I tried a new recipe this weekend. My dish required sour cream and I didn’t have any on hand. And yes, you guessed it; it was a stretch but I used a substitute. Some tzatziki sauce I thawed from the freezer did just fine.
“The stretch mentality tells me there is a need to expand my faith.”
There was another situation that required stretching too. As our beloved Carolina Panthers took on the Seattle Seahawks, I knew we had a slim chance for victory. And yet, I set out game-time snacks and imagined the game wrap-up discussing a Panther win.
Is there some goal or dream that seems like a stretch for you? The saying, “it’s a stretch” implies that the likelihood of success is a long shot. It is a reach for what seems impossible. The stretch mentality tells me there is a need to expand my faith.
My recent experiences help me to embrace this truth. When I stretch before and after my workout it prevents injury. As I put new demands on my body, my stretched muscles can adapt more easily. Likewise, a faith stretch prepares me for what lies ahead in life. I can adapt to demanding situations by anticipating God’s faithfulness. Faith in Him helps me to avoid being injured by feelings of inadequacy and doubt.
And like using the tzatziki sauce instead of sour cream, a new level of faith is far better than my old comfort zone. The familiar lacks adventure. However, my faith stirs up a sense that God is leading me to something more meaningful. I can begin to see life based on what He desires instead of insisting that I stay in a predictable pattern.
As I recovered from the Panther defeat, I did a different kind of spiritual stretch. It is the kind that needs to occur when things don’t go my way. I realized that whether the Seahawks or Panthers advanced in the playoffs, God is still in control. The Panthers lost but life goes on and so does the grace of God (so look out for next year’s playoffs).
Have you stretched anything this week? A budget? Your patience? Your imagination? Stretching can generally be a good thing. So if you desire to reach higher in your goals or see further along life’s path, here’s some good news: faith stretching is possible because Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2).
He gives us the elasticity of His grace to grow us for His plans. In our eyes some goals will be a stretch. But by God’s grace they can also become a testimony of what happens when He brings hope to the heart and joy to the soul.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 NIV