Did you ever play with that kids toy “Stretch Armstrong?” You know, that toy that was super stretchy and you would have fun stretching him all weird ways, and you even got stronger as you stretched. Stretching is good, and though there is a debate if you should stretch before, during or after exercise, it is good to stretch. Many exercises include stretching. Yoga is a creative way with unusual contortions and interesting names like Bird of Paradise, Downward Dog, and the Pigeon, all ways that stretch us. I don’t know about you, but I tried a Yoga type class and I felt like I was in a bad game of Twister! Anyway…stretching is a good thing, it:
• Reduces muscle tension
• Increases range of movement in the joints
• Enhances muscular coordination
• Increases circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
• Increases energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)
Now, I am no doctor, but most every health and fitness expert will say stretching is good (now please consult your physician or fitness trainer before you get out and start some stretching program).
Stretching is also good for our growth in other areas of our life, including our spiritual growth. The Apostle Paul encouraging this stretching in:
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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.
I know we looked at these verses a few weeks ago, but the word ‘press on’ means to pursue with intensity, to run after, to press on despite the adversity, being zealous…stretching forward! As well, the words “straining towards” means to reach out, to stretch towards a goal. If we want to grow and be spiritual strong, mature in the faith (see Hebrews 5:11-6:2), and producing the fruit that Ephesians 2:10 talks of (you know, the fruit of the Spirit, those godly character traits Galatians 5:22-23 talks and the good works Romans 7:4 mentions…by the way if don’t readily know these verses then look them up…you will not get what I mean if you don’t…so stretch out your hand and pick up your Bible and read!).
You see, if we are to grow it’s not going to just happen when we sit in church or attend a few Christian functions. We need to stretch out and practice some of the actions of faith.
- Like loving God (Matthew 22:37) – One way could be to stretch out and make the time and take the time to have a consistent time with God reading and praying.
- Like loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37) – One way could be to stretch out and get to know them and offer to serve/help them.
- Like attending church more (Hebrews 10:25) – Maybe stretch out and be more consistent at Sunday services and consider joining a small group Bible study.
- Like inviting people to church (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20) – Maybe stretch out and invite people to Easter services.
- Like being generous (Luke 6:38) – Maybe stretch out and give above and beyond what you are now giving, like with Faith Promise or where ever.
I could go on, but the idea here is to continue to press on, to strain towards, to stretch. Sure, a lot of emotional energy is taken with life and our issues and problems and stresses that we face. Our tendency would be to get overwhelmed and not try. But like working out brings physical endorphins where we actually feel better, this spiritual stretching brings the joy of living life God’s way like we experience on a missions trip or up at a Christian camp or retreat or as we serve the Lord.
Why not give it a try or be encouraged to continue to stretch out for the Lord. It could make all the difference in the world; in your life, in your family, in our church, in our community, and in our world. Let’s do some stretching today, this week.
Seeking to Stretch out with you,