2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.             – James 1:2-4

The ability to embrace stretching may determine how successful I will be with the things that God is calling me to do. Stretching usually involves being asked, or cornered, to do something we wouldn’t have chosen to do on our own. I’ve had many times, even recently, when I stretched to do something, out of obedience, that I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen to do. This is how we can grow exponentially. Our ‘yes’ to these stretching opportunities is a ‘yes’ to God’s expansion.

We also need others to stretch us. This is why a healthy community is important. Often those close individuals can see things in us that we cannot see for ourselves. These can be valuable and important relationships, even when they are challenging. Christian author and speaker, Lisa Bevere, said, “if you don’t stretch you will get injured.” I would venture to say that if you don’t stretch, you’ll waste away. We need to stretch to grow. God’s kingdom is always advancing; He will advance with us, or without us. We are often afraid of getting hurt, embarrassed or failing. However, as Christine Caine, author and founder of A21 and Propel Women, has said, “the pain of regret is worse than the momentary pain of obedience.”

Unexpected circumstance will always stretch us. Embrace the opportunity to bring Jesus into those places.  He is unafraid and offers us courage for the unexpected. We must be willing to step toward the uncomfortable. Stretching can bring discomfort, but it can also bring great reward.

“I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” -Philippians 3:10-1

Consider your favorite heroes in the bible. Can you name one of them that didn’t have to stretch in order to follow and fulfill what God spoke to them? Consider their challenges; Peter had to throw away convention and embrace the Holy Spirit’s work among the Gentiles. Noah spent years building an ark long before the rainy season every came. Many people of faith faced fear, doubt and challenge. For each of them, stretch came before breakthrough.

Where do you need to embrace “the stretch?”

Let’s read the story of Abraham this week, Genesis 12-23. Consider all the challenges he and Sarah faced. Where were they stretched? How does this speak to you and what is happening in your own life? Are there any things or people that the Lord is encouraging you to let go of that have been holding you back from His purposes for your life?