No bones about it. I was a non-athletic girl. Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, I don’t have an athletic bone in my body”? Yep. That was me. Ironically, God’s sense of humor included match-making this artsy, musical, studious gal with a superb athlete. My hubby was even a man called into a life-time of sports ministry. Thankfully in the past three and a half decades I’ve discovered that to become an athletically appreciative wife and mom, all my non-athletic “bones” needed were some stretching!
During 34 years of marriage, God has certainly stretched my bodily “athletic bones” by enjoying high impact Jane Fonda workouts (shout out to my 80’s gals) and teaching aerobic group fitness, to running road races and weight lifting. In this current “late 50s” season of life, God has been actively stretching me yet again. This time He’s stretching me to…well…STRETCH. I still include cardio and weight training in my weekly routine but now I consciously engage in “Flexible Strength” classes to stretch my tight muscles and stiff joints beyond comfort. (I used to either skip stretching or squeeze in an obligatory two-minutes following each workout thinking it was a waste of time.) Now I see that stretching is crucial to stay strong down the stretch! Bottom line: God uses stretching to increase our strength!
From the very beginning of time, our God has been stretching too. Jeremiah 32:17 reaches upward to praise God for His own flexible strength.
“O Sovereign Lord. You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for YOU!”
I don’t know your age or stage, but I am certain that our God is calling you to reflect His glory by stretching too! Where are you being stretched right now? Is your time being stretched? Maybe your faith is being stretched? How about your money? Or perhaps you’re experiencing a heart stretch? Or even a “home stretch”?
Some of the biggest stretches in my own life have been worked out in my role as a mom. Mommy-hood is definitely an exercise in faith that stretches you in every direction, doesn’t it? From the moment the baby begins to grow in your womb, you are being stretched. Literal “stretch marks” are a visible symbol of what will follow. These marks preface the miracle of birth and a lifetime of being stretched by a precious child.
God has certainly used my calling as a mom to increase my God-dependent “flexible strength.” From child birth, sleepless nights, discipline issues, school decisions, relational dynamics, teenage moods, new drivers, college independence, to empty nest; God sends the gift of children to stretch us! To strengthen us.
And we are not alone. Scripture is marked by God stretching His children.
A word-search of “stretch” in the Bible quickly pushes our own faith muscles beyond their limits. In Exodus, God repeats a series of stretching exercises to strengthen His own children, the Israelites. He takes the lead in stretching in Exodus 3:20 and 7:5 by saying,
“See I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them…And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”
Then 16 times in the next six chapters, God first directs Moses to stretch. Then each time Moses by faith “stretched out His hand,” it preceded a powerful new work of God. From sending ten debilitating plagues to parting the Red Sea, all God asked Moses to do was to stretch!
Like Moses, dozens of biblical examples signed up for God’s “flexible strength” class.
Whether it was Abraham stretching out his hand when God asked him to be willing to sacrifice his only son or the disciples stretching out their nets to catch a stunning number of fish, all were stretched beyond “what they knew” so they could know HIM. Stretched beyond their own ability so they could know that HE IS ABLE. Stretched beyond comfort. Stretched beyond reason. To be sure, stretching always enlarges faith because true faith begins where our comfort zone ends. This is true of whether stretching our talents or our tents, our home stretch.
Isaiah 54:2-3 commands us to faithfully,
“Enlarge the place of your tent (home), and let the curtains of your tents (homes) be stretched out; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes, for you will spread out and your offspring will possess the nations…”
When our tents (homes/families) are stretched we find that God’s power stretches far beyond our homes. Heart of Womanhood Mother-Daughter Bible Studies are designed to stretch and strengthen our families and faith. As we strengthen our stakes in Christ, He raises our stakes! He enlarges our influence.
Serving in full-time Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry for the past 35 years, my husband and I often tease that many times FCA should stand for “Flexible Christian Athletes”.
The longer I serve, the more God stretches me to live up to that “flexible” calling. I love how one FCA staff guy keeps a rubber band on his wrist as a reminder that God wants to stretch him daily! In his words, “Rubber bands are pretty useless unless they are stretched. When they are extended beyond their standard form, however, they can hold things together and accomplish their intended purpose.”
As moms, daughters and grandmothers, we are like rubber bands, pretty useless unless we are stretched. Jesus knows this. Jesus showed this.
Exodus 6:6 foretold the ultimate stretching exercise of all time when God said, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.” Yes ladies, the ultimate stretching exercise came when God’s Son, Jesus, stretched out His nail-pierced hands, pushing beyond all comfort and reason on the cross to extend His divine strength to us!
So, whether your “home stretch” this fall involves:
- preparing for a new school year
- closing in on achieving a personal goal
- preparing for a deadline, event, or project
- remaining faithful to convictions in spite of the culture
- facing uncertainty in your health, your marriage,
- your health, your kids, your job, or your life,
God is wanting us to live like Him—OUTSTRETCHED!
“Home stretch” mommas, would you join me in wearing a rubber band on your wrist this week? What a great reminder to ourselves (and others who will ask us) that like rubber bands, we were made to be stretched so that God’s strength can then be shown expanded in us!
So, activate your rubber-band faith today, confident that, with Christ, the outstretched arm of God Almighty will arm us to stay strong in every home stretch. “For nothing is too hard for Him!” (Jer. 32:17)