As a group fitness instructor, I know how good stretching is for you. Perhaps most notably, stretching helps to keep muscles elastic and increase your range of motion. But you might be surprised to know that it can also help increase strength, power, and endurance.
Now, let me confess that I don’t stretch as often as I should. When I work out, I most often go with what I know (and enjoy) best—strength training and cardio. Quite frankly, stretching is hard work; it’s uncomfortable—literally. There are moves that are extremely difficult for me because of limited mobility in certain joints.
Stretching takes an investment of time, and it takes great intent and focus in doing it right to reap the benefits. For me, it’s way too easy to just skip it. Not only is it unpleasant to do, but walking into a yoga class can be pretty dang intimidating! Physically flexible folks can put themselves in positions I can only dream of being able to do!
I have a friend who recently found herself in a ministry situation that required her to “stretch.” She was comfortable, even experienced, with many aspects that the task required and had faithfully participated many, many times in her “usual” ministry role.
But then she was asked to LEAD it. THAT, for her, was really uncomfortable.
Her experience as a faithful member of this ministry group was obvious, and her previous role would certainly be considered as a foundational and integral one. She was glad to fulfill her responsibilities, because her “assignment” was within the realm of her ability and training. And, as we all know, that’s a comfortable place to be. But for her to have the ultimate responsibility in steering and directing the group was a whole new challenge. She knew God was calling her far beyond “comfort.” It was, as she said, “a real stretch” for her.
Where is God leading you to stretch yourself in your faith walk? Like me walking into a yoga class—looking at those lovely limber and flexible folks–all I can think of is, “I can’t do that,” and my focus shifts, either towards others, or on to myself, neither of which is a good or right option. For any of us to always serve and minister within our own abilities doesn’t point others to the One who can and does “equip us for every good work” (Eph. 4:12, 2 Tim. 3:17, Heb. 13:21). He takes us beyond ourselves, because He is beyond anything we can fully comprehend (Job 36:26, Rom. 11:33, 2 Cor. 8:3) and makes possible what only He can do (Matt. 19:26; Mark 9:23, 10:27; Luke 18:27).
Remember, in addition to increased “flexibility and range of motion,” stretching also increases “strength, power, and endurance.” If He has called you, He will strengthen you and equip you (Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 12:1). It’s Him doing those things both through and in us for which He gets all the glory, just as He so rightly deserves.
So, stand up, stretch, and reach–for Him.