What's the number one rule in just about any sport and/or athletic activity?
Of course...be sure to stretch.Have you ever danced, played a sport all day or participated in something physically strenuous, and not adequately stretched before you do it? What happens?
You'll likely move about at a snail's pace the next day...or at a minimum, you'll encounter a significant amount of pain. That's because you didn't give your body adequate time to warm up and prepare for the impending physical impact. It's not rocket science. In fact, most athletes make it a priority to stretch on a regular basis...not because they see immediate results, but because over time as they consistently make stretching part of their routine, their muscles adapt and find the ability to go just a little bit further each time.
The same theory holds true of us internally...our hearts, our minds, our character and skills.
So if this is the case, why do we rarely ask God to stretch us? Why do we often lean into our own strengths as best we can to avoid being stretched in our weaknesses?
I'll admit, I'm not always the best at stretching before I workout. Sometimes it's because I don't have (translation=make) the time. Sometimes it's because I'm so eager to get into whatever it is that I'm doing, I can't be bothered with anything else that's going to keep me from it. Sometimes I'm just plain lazy.
And what's the result? Pain.
Most likely a lot more pain than if I had just taken the time to allow for the stretching in the first place.
I'm also not the best at proactively asking God to stretch me in certain areas, before He decides to do it anyways. The control freak in me wants to continue to plow forward, working out of the many strengths and talents that I have been blessed with, because it's comfortable. Because it's easier. Because I somewhat feel like I can control it.
And then there are the times when I feel the Lord nudging me to just allow Him to stretch me...maybe even just a little, and I resist. I resist because I'm comfortable. I resist because I'm anxious to get what I want, and I know stopping to stretch might prolong reaching the goal. I resist because I'm afraid.
But if I am confident that God is in control and He will fill in the gaps, then why do I worry? He's proved it over and over in scripture:
Moses had a speech impediment, yet God stretched him and called him to speak to thousands of people.
Peter was uneducated, but he was stretched and put forth as a leader.
Paul said it best when he wrote:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -2 Corinthians 12:9
I do know that if we're willing to surrender those areas of weakness to God and allow Him to stretch us, over time we will begin to see a culminated effort of growth and transformation within our own hearts...which ultimately just helps keep us dependent upon Him and brings Him glory in the long run.
Isn't that the point?
Lord, I want to be the best me you've designed me to be. I'm busting out my yoga mat and I'm ready to do a little more stretching...