Not long ago I read a book called Fitness After 40. It was an intriguing book that helped me to understand pretty much everything that has gone wrong with my body over the past couple decades!
The list of changes was quite lengthy, but one of them had to do with the way we tend to become less and less flexible in our muscles and joints as we grow older. Every athletic coach I’ve had over the years has always told me how important it is to stretch, but this book seemed to flip a light on in my mind as I began to understand just how important stretching is for our bodies … over time.
In a similar way, we must also remember to stretch SPIRITUALLY as we grown in the Lord over time. And when we stretch spiritually, it always has to do with our faith. God wants us to stretch in our faith.
Paul lays out an amazing list of Bible personalities in Hebrews 11 who demonstrated their faith in powerful ways. This passage has come to be known as the “Faith Hall of Fame,” and we can find many examples of how to live by faith.
Hebrews 11:6 says,
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Faith is absolutely central to the Christian experience. We enter into a relationship with God through faith (Romans 10:9-10), and Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is a big deal!
And faith is powerful! Jesus said that if we will have faith as a grain of mustard seed, we can pray and see mountains cast into the ocean. I wonder how small my faith must look in that type of comparison!
As you read this, I’d like to suggest to you that it is likely that God wants to stretch your faith. And just like physical stretching, spiritual stretching is not easy. Stretching requires us to push beyond our normal level of comfort.
I’ve seen some pretty amazing feats when watching MMA fighters on TV. It’s stunning to see how a fighter can effortlessly swing his foot over the head of his opponent with no thought at all. But one thing I know about that fighter is that he took many, many years to stretch those muscles so that he could get to that level. And the stretching in his gym was always designed to push him beyond what felt comfortable.
And so it is with our faith. God wants to stretch you beyond your normal comfort zone. And that is where you will begin to see growth and progress like never before.
An Important Point:
It is likely that God wants to stretch your faith today.
Consider the following when it comes to the ways God may want to stretch you:
- God may want you to DO something.
- God may want you to STOP DOING something.
- God may want you to GIVE something.
- God may want you to SAY something.
- God may want you to STOP SAYING something.
- God may want you to SELL something.
- God may want you to BUY something. (presumably for a person or ministry in need)
- God may want you to START something.
- God may want you to END something.
- God may want you to LOVE someone.
The chances are great that God likely wants to stretch you today!
When it comes to your spiritual fitness, don’t forget to stretch!
I’d love to hear your comments about
this subject. Let me hear
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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)
Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)
14 thoughts on “Spiritual Fitness Training: The Importance of Stretching”
This article concerning faith hits home to me. It was only a short time ago that I was praying to God to give me more faith and discovered that faith without works is truly not faith at all. I found that one has to indeed get out of their comfort zone to actually do for the Lord. That if I’m ever going to have the faith strong enough to equal the size of a mustard seed that I will have to become totally dedicated to God’s word, and to make it known to others without consideration for what could happen in the way of persecution. That is to say you must believe in God’s word by living it with every single breath you breath. Obviously, I fall short as I cannot move mountains either with my faith. So I am prompted to do more and live more for Jesus Christ. I’m currently singing in our church choir along with my wife Vernice. She is putting in a request to teach little ones about Christ. We both are helpers in the church library. Even so, it can only be considered a start in streaching our faith. Great words Chris. We both liked and agree with them.
Great comments. You should write your own blog! Maybe that’s another “stretch” God would use? : )
Thanks for the kind words, Chris. But the sad part of your suggestion to strech my faith does show up my lack of savvy when it comes to blogs. Maybe a better word for it would be, not with understanding, dumb…….! would love to do something like that with scripture and backup articles showing examples that abide by the truth of the given scriptures. Make sense?
Praise our God !! We can move mountains what that is saying the situations and things that hinder us can be very big as tall,as mountain s and anything that oposes God in our lifes these are spiritual mountain s my friend so the more you pray and remain in God the smaller that those things become ..it could be pain .sickness .family issues and so on we can climb those mountains in faith and climb higher in the lord ..which is faith we can do all things which he strengthens us draw nigh u,to God he will draw nigh unto you Be encouraged what has helped me is the faith God gave me in my situation that were so dark and seemed no hope oh but when I cried out unto him,he heard and delivered me I still have storms but with him and in faith ..prayer in walking running climbing Godbless you
I like the comparison. I can relate to it because I know God is stretching my faith right now. And the hard part is not focusing on my personal situation but focusing on God’s purpose for me during this season of stretching
My God, this is sooo true! I think we really forget how easy it can be to go down a path that “seems right to man”… but in the end leads to destruction… We get so caught up doing the good thing, rather than the “god-ly thing. We are bombarded through the media, by such things/ideas/situations/beliefs that are adverse and totally oppositesois so
Great insight, Darlene!
I liked your article very much — thanks! Also looked up the Fitness After 40 book you referenced. Good parallels between fitness of the body and soul. and the need to stretch both. It also makes me think of these parallels too – Flexibility – accept and adapt to changes remembering that God is in control; aerobic – stay active in God’s work; weights – bear life’s challenges and disappointments trusting in God’s love; balance – make wise choices in how you spend your time, energy and resources.
Great comments! Thanks! I like your ideas!
Thank you for posting this encouraging article on Stretching out our Faith. I have been struggling for a while, as I wait on the Lord’s response, for my Colombia Mission Trip. This article has expanded my faith and helps me to keep trusting in God, because he has the perfect timing. I have been greatly encouraged and touched. I know this is God’s way to telling me to never lose my Faith in Him. I pray that this message will reach out to millions of people who are also struggling in this area of their Spiritual Walk with God, and that it will lift them up. May God continue to bless you and your ministry as you share His love to the world. Keep up the great work!
Below is a link that will lead you to my first Mission Trip Campaign, if you are interested in supporting me and my young adults team.
Thank you for the reference that God wants us to stretch us to have us grow in strength, and endurance and reliance in Him. My wife is going through some very tough times with an advanced and aggressive cancer diagnosis and has left her in a lot of physical pain. I am her primary caregiver and both of us have truly been getting “stretched”. We are asking for your prayers for healing, knowing that God is always listening and remembering what Jesus said ..” Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to everyone who knocks the door will be opened. Matthew 7: 7-8. He is such a loving God. I know He has all good things in store for us. And whether He elects to heal her or have her come to heaven WE KNOW THAT OUR REDEEMER LIVES AND WE WILL LIVE WITH HIM FOREVER IN HEAVEN. WE HAVE WON THE BATTLE OVER SATAN; And will live to glorify God through all eternity thanks to Jesus who died on a cross for all of us!
Thank you for your SensibleFaith web site. May God bless all of you who have built and care and contribute 🙂 <
I will certainly pray for your wife and your family. I’m sorry to hear of your difficult journey. May God bless you abundantly as time moves forward.
@ Tim Crowe it always grieves my heart when i get to hear of someone diagnosed of cancer. But i love that you have faith in God for its by faith that my mother (also diagnosed of cervical cancer in 2012) still lives. Before her treatment in 2012 she was told of the possible side effects and short lifespan to be honest an aunt of mine who bares same name as my mother and treated same time as my mother didnt make it to a year after treatment. I would really appreciate if you can connect with me on facebook. My facebook name is Grace A. Essel