Not many people enjoy stretching.
I mean let’s be honest, who wants to voluntarily push their muscles to the limit and experience that intense burn?
Back when I played college basketball at Northwood University there was one season that our coach hired a personal trainer to get my team in better shape before the season started. The running, agility and strength training was actually manageable, but it was the stretching after every workout that many of my teammates and I dreaded. I can still remember a circle of full grown men screaming like little girls as our stretching partner pulled our heels towards our heads. I’m a firm believer that the best part of stretching is when it is over.
Although stretching isn’t always the most enjoyable experience, it is very beneficial. Those in the fitness world know that there are many benefits of stretching – relaxed muscles, better range of motion, increased performance, and decreased chance of injury. In a nutshell, stretching is a very important part of our personal fitness.
Just like stretching is necessary for our personal fitness, stretching is also necessary for our spiritual fitness. There will be certain seasons in our lives that God desires to stretch us so that we can perform at the next level in our spiritual walks. Check out what His Word says in Isaiah 54:2-3
“Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.”
God will often need us to stretch and grow in order to have the capacity needed to effectively follow His call on our lives. If we want to thrive in our next season, then stretching is a very essential part of the process God uses to prepare us.
Whether it is an overloaded schedule, full plate of classes and work, a new relationship, more responsibility, being asked to do something outside of your comfort zone, or all of the above…we all will have to go through stretching seasons in our lives. It’s just part of the deal.
Here are 4 Ways To Get The Most Out Of A Stretching Season:
1. Just Because It Is Hard Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad
I believe this is where a lot of us miss it. Once things get hard or too stressful we want to quit, do something different or make up excuses and justify why it wasn’t God’s will. Avoiding hard situations rarely ever prepares you for what God has next. God uses stretching seasons to help you build the character and capacity to perform at the next level. (Check out Erica’s post if things are hard for you right now)
2. If You Don’t Grow, Then You Don’t Go
If you don’t stretch, then you’re not flexible. If you’re not flexible, then it’s hard for you to bend and be used in the ways God desires. I’ve heard Christine Caine say it this way: “You need to GROW to where you want to GO!” If you want to “slam dunk” then you have to do the stretching and squats.. You may not be able to reach all the way on your first try, but if you continue to stretch and grow, you will move forward in the right direction.
3. Embrace It So God Can Grace It
This has been my personal motto which I have found very helpful in getting the most out of a stretching season. When you find yourself in the middle of a stretching season you have one of two options: 1) Kick, scream, complain or resist it (like me and my teammates did at first during that one season) or 2) Embrace it and enjoy the stretch. The former never gets you the results you really desire. But the latter brings you the proper outlook and attitude you need in the midst of your stretching season. When you embrace the healthy stretch then God can grace it, and oddly enough, it can actually become enjoyable.
4. It’s Worth It!
Believe it or not, by the end of that preseason training, I actually looked forward to stretching at the end of a workout or practice. Why? Because it was worth it! Never before in my life could I run faster, jump higher, move swifter! In the same way, the fruit that God produces in your life during a season of stretching far outweighs the pain and struggle. Always remember that God will increase your performance through the process of preparation…and it’s worth it!
So whether you sense you are coming into a stretching season, are smack dab in the middle of one, or have just come out of one, be encouraged that God knows what He’s doing. He won’t stretch you past your capacity, and he has your best interests in mind. Let’s embrace the stretch and welcome the well earned fruit to come!
At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:11 MESSAGE