There’s something about stretching that most of us put off. I could be talking about the stretching that coaches try to get their athletes to do after a workout, but I’m really talking about the things that have cause for us to stretch beyond our comfort zone in life.
Judges 6:11–16 (ESV) — 11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
Think back of the things you put off over the past year because it just seemed too uncomfortable. Think of the unfinished projects, the dreams that you never pursued, or the obedience to God’s word that you neglected because it required a stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Just like the need for stretching our physical bodies, so is the need to stretch our capabilities, our minds, and our hearts beyond where we are because we don’t stay stagnant. We are either growing or we are falling back. Our physical muscles tend to atrophy without use and we tend to shrivel up. Hence, you see people tend to look like they are shrinking when they get older and in some sense they do as muscles that are not stretched tend to get smaller. Likewise, our minds that are not pushed to the limit tend to fall back and our recall becomes slower and less sensitive. What about our service and obedience to God? The more we try to stay comfortable, the less we stretch and when challenged we do exactly as Gideon did, we tend to blame and make excuses.
Gideon was challenged and the first thing he did was to blame God in questioning the challenging situation. Have you ever done that? Instead of accepting the situation that God sovereignly set you in to prove you and to display His power and grace in your life, you wasted the moments in asking why. We have all done it and maybe there’s a challenge you need to face today that you put off because you are a bit miffed at God for allowing it to happen. God was getting Gideon to “man up” and face the challenge. Perhaps that is what He is doing for you in moving you out of your comfort zone.
The second thing Gideon did to put off the stretch was to make excuses in saying how unqualified he was for the job. Have you ever done that? It’s another way we all avoid stretching – thinking of all the excuses and why we shouldn’t.
Wait a minute.
Yea, that’s another way. We procrastinate when there is a call for stretching. We can delay it, try to excuse it, or try to blame it away but the fact remains we shall not grow without stretching, and God’s purpose for us is – for us to grow.
Luke 22:31–32 (ESV) — 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter was about to be tested and taken out of his comfort zone but notice what is behind his stretch – Jesus’ prayers for him.
Romans 8:31 (ESV) — 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
As you look back on your failures to stretch and look forward to the challenge in the new year that will require stretching out of your comfort zone, remember the benefits that unless you stretch you will not grow, and remember the lessons of Gideon and Peter that as God called them to stretch so God was with them and so He will be with you. So don’t blame or make excuses, press on and break through that barrier that his holding you back and stretch. You will be glad you did.