Weekly Blog - Paul Lancaster - A bit of a stretchhhhhhh!
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Posted on: 29th March 2022
Not long ago I watched an amusing video clip of an elderly man trying to demonstrate the importance of stretching exercises. First, he couldn’t remember the name of the person who told him about them; then he couldn’t manage to hold a brush handle behind his back and with each type of stretch he was groaning and gasping for breath. However, we know that if we stretch properly there are many benefits - being pushed beyond our comfort levels, increasing flexibility and range of motion, improving circulation and posture etc.
During the last two years especially, many have felt they were being stretched to their limits in all kinds of ways and now in more recent days we can’t imagine what being stretched is like for those living in and fleeing from Ukraine. There is also a foreboding awareness that we are all going to be stretched with the economic fallout from all this. At the same time however we have seen shining examples of many who are prepared to be stretched sacrificially for the benefit of others.
There was a time of great hardship for Israel when the nation was in exile and the prophet Isaiah brought a message about stretching. “Enlarge the place of your tent. Stretch your tent curtains wide. Lengthen your cords. Strengthen your stakes…” Is.54v2.Their current circumstances were not the end of the story. God was still extending His plans and purposes through them, but they needed to stretch. It’s easy not to want to stretch until we’re forced or motivated. We feel uncomfortable when stretching but we do have the option to choose to stretch.
If we were to look through a “stretch lens” as we read the Bible, we would find almost on every page some aspect of being stretched and its benefits. We see faith, obedience, resources, and mindsets being continuously extended.
We are reminded as we come to Easter of the greatest stretch of all-the body of Jesus physically outstretched on the cross in sacrifice, reaching out in forgiveness and reconciliation so that all could know everlasting life.
If we are “crucified” with Christ then we will be stretched in our vulnerability and self-sacrifice. The challenge is being prepared to allow God to stretch us so that His kingdom increases. Although this may be difficult to accept and understand, He does not want us to be overstretched in a wrong way “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking flax he will not quench.”
The two areas where we are most likely to be stretched are in our RELATIONSHIPS AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Let’s be prepared to stretch and be stretched so that we become more flexible, less tight, more responsive allowing God to increase capacity in our faith, obedience giving of ourselves and our resources and most of all extending His love.
Paul Lancaster (Hope for the Nations)