I wonder if God doesn’t want us to stretch more: to stretch our faith, to stretch our compassion, to stretch our endurance & maybe stretch in some other areas. Today, I had to stretch past my natural limits in lots of ways.
Since I’m here in Cambodia, I need to stretch my time so that I can be fully spent when I leave. I did this well today because God helped me. This day was overflowing with accomplishments & productivity! I also felt my compassion stretch today, such that I didn’t pull away from broken people & I felt God’s love pour through me. I was also stretched today in the area of wisdom, as I had some challenging conversations that exceeded my natural abilities. Stretching helps us to stay nimble & flexible, maybe helping us obey & follow God better!
Let’s allow God to stretch us!
I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!
I changed my plans for today at the last minute. I was going to go snowboarding, but decided that there are more pressing needs at home than my snowboarding interests.
In 1Samuel 13, Saul changed his plans as well. He & Samuel made a plan to make a sacrifice together but he got scared & offered the sacrifice without Samuel. This was a major downfall for Saul & Samuel explained shortly after Saul’s fearful decision, that God had sought out a different leader for Israel, a man after His heart (1San 13:14).
Saul changed the plan he had made with Samuel because he was afraid of his enemy, the Philistines, & saw the Israelite’ support of his leadership rapidly eroding.
While I’m a massive advocate of flexible planning, I’m growing to appreciate the importance of keeping God’s goals as unchanging piers to anchor my soul, regardless of my environs, feelings or selfish preferences.
God’s goals always related to genuine love & connecting humanity to God’s heart in deep intimacy. Let’s be sure that we keep God’s plans more central to our choices rather than our selfish interests, including my snowboarding plans 🙂
When I was learning to snowboard, I would ride in the middle, flat space of my board. This seemed easier & took less work than riding on one of the edges. But whenever I did that, I would inevitably catch an edge & get smashed into the mountain – lots of pain, weeping & gnashing of teeth. I quickly learned that riding the flat part of my board required less balance but was more risky. After some troublesome injuries I decided to quit riding the middle of my board & just stick the edges even though it was more work to stay balanced.
This lesson rings true for me in my daily living as well. When I get lazy & try to do life in ways that are comfy & convenient, I often run into some challenges that could be avoided if I had done the work to live balanced. It helps me to keep keep my edge in life when I do the extra work, intentionally lean into Jesus & trust walk with the Holy Spirit – Gal 5:16 🙂
We had a trampoline when I was growing up & I really loved learning tricks to do on the tramp. The only exception was when I tried to learn a back flip & wound up unconscious on the ground. As a result, to this day I have this innate opposition to anything backwards (back flips on diving boards, backstroke, reverse driving, etc). But here’s an interesting thing that I’m pondering: I wonder if my reliance on the Holy Spirit isn’t stronger when I do things that don’t seem as easy or natural to me. It seems like when I find things to be easy, I tend to rely less on the Holy Spirit than when things are difficult. While this initially feels awkward & uncomfortable, I wonder if there’s not huge spiritual benefits to doing some things in a less easy or natural progression. Maybe the Holy Spirit leads us in ways, on occasion, that don’t seem as natural, convenient or easy as we’d like.
My daughter & I are talking about all the changes happening for us currently. We’ve got school changes, friend adjustments (saying goodbye & meeting new friends), neighborhood transitions and heaps more.
We just talked about how Jacob in Genesis underwent huge amounts of change: his family relationships, place where he lived, job functions, marriage & children adjustments and even moving to Egypt at the end of his life. Here are some things to help make change be positive in your life:
Prepare rather than deny: just because you may want to deny some impending changes doesn’t make them evaporate; preparing is more proactive than denying
Keep positive: it always helps me remember Rom 8:28-9, that as long as I stay in love with God & locked into God’s purposes, all things work together for my good
Be practical: maintain routines & schedules, drink more water & less coffee / soda, eat healthy, exercise & get good sleep
Trust God: always keep in mind that God gives us what we need or God changes our needs
My new physical therapy exercise is called Turkish Get-Ups & they’re very exciting, so say I with a smirk. I’m supposed to hold some kind of weight, do some weird getting up thing & pretend I’m nimble, maybe.
This is all very exciting because I can see that I’m making progress – to the point that I can do Turkish Get-Ups. Even though I feel uber silly doing these crazy exercises, I’m totally committed to doing them because they’re helping me to reach my goal to go snowboarding, swimming, jogging, paragliding & possibly wingsuit jumping.
Sometimes our spiritual development can be a little bit like Turkish Get-Ups. As we keep growing in our walk with God, sometimes we get to do things that might feel silly. Let’s appreciate, however, that if our flesh feels uncomfortable & silly but our spirits are growing, then ultimately that’s not bad: Maybe we need to pray out loud for someone today.
Maybe we need to ask God for some of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to move in our lives.
Maybe we need to choose to be patient when we’d prefer to rip off someone’s head.
Maybe we need to ask for God’s help in our daily living rather than trying to be independent 🙂
My daughter’s basketball game was postponed on Thurs night because of weather complications, so I’ve got some time to work on my self-control efforts (her next game isn’t until Dec). In the meantime, watch this video for how I think about myself with basketball (laugh, laugh, chuckle, chuckle)