Summary: This sermon looks at how we survive God's stretch and how we can grow and have the victory in the stretch.
Spiritual First Aid
“Surviving the Stretch”
Life happens in the stretch, so we have to learn how to survive it.
All of us have changed over the years, yet that which has made us unique still remains. We have all morphed in one way or another, like the hair on my head turning grey or leaving for places unknown, or while I’ve gotten older I’ve only gotten better looking! Go figure!
Yet even though we’ve changed physically, we’re still the same inside, which is why I still like to think of myself as that strapping young lad in an old overweight body.
It’s our spiritual lives, however, that God wants to change, transform, and stretch as the Bible says, “from glory to glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
To stretch is to expand or extend something to a greater size or length. When it comes to life, being stretched means that we’re growing. God stretches us so we can grow more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Paul tells us we are to no longer to be tossed back and forth from one doctrine to another like little children, but rather we are to grow up in our faith, Ephesians 4:14-15.
God is out to stretch us!
In 2016 the Lord gave me a prophetic word of how He was preparing me. He was going to stretch me, but in the right way so He could strengthen and bless me, so I don’t get sidelined or delayed.
The prophecy was given where like the Apostle Paul I could say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV)
Now, while this sounds like a total blessing, which it is, it is also something that I was not looking forward too, because stretching involves resistance and pain.
We’ve all heard about “The stretch.” We stretch when we get up in the morning, or when we’ve been sitting a long time. In baseball we have the 7th inning stretch. There’s also the home stretch where a runner heads for the finish line.
Stretching is also something God wants to do in our lives as He stretches our faith.
No one, however, likes to be stretched. Therefore we go through all these gyrations, these mental tugs of war, because we don’t like to make decisions that stretch us, especially in our faith.
But to have our faith stretched means we need to learn in the spiritual how to be flexible and bendable in the hands of God.
One guy who understands what it means to bend and be stretched is Gumby. Sometimes he’s so bendable he’s been known to bend over backwards. No one, therefore, wants to be Gumby. There’s also another guy known for his stretching ability, and that is Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. He can stretch his body to incredible lengths.
But these are cartoon figures, because in real life no one likes to be stretched. But if we want to grow in our faith we must be willing to have our faith stretched.
If we want our patience to grow, God will have our patience tested. If we want to grow in leadership, God will put our leadership to the test. And since God wants to grow our love for Him and others, He will put some really unlovable people in our path.
Here’s the point, if God is stretching us it’s best to cooperate with Him in the stretch. A new paraphrase to an old axiom states, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
For those who have played sports know the value of stretching. If we don’t stretch prior to the game then a serious injury is not far away.
God is stretching us because He knows what lay ahead, the challenges that are coming.
In the beginning they are small and limited stretches, like when our computer goes down, the car stops or gets a flat tire, or when a relationship ends. But in these stretches God is getting us ready for the challenges and setbacks that are on the horizon.
Maybe it’s a financial setback like the loss of a job, residence, or retirement fund. Maybe it involves our family life like a divorce or loss of someone we love. It also may involve our health like when we hear the word, “cancer,” or when we have a heart attack or stroke.
Therefore it’s important we learn how to stretch properly in the small tests of faith so we’re not blown away in the major ones.
We see this in Israel’s wilderness experience. They stopped stretching when they stopped worshiping God. They thought it was too big of a stretch to follow God’s lead. They thought it was too big of a stretch to trust Him for their food and water, or to go into and possess the Promised Land.