Posts Tagged ‘stretching’

Stretching becomes more important the older we get!  It’s pretty natural to stretch. Almost all of us stretch when we wake up in the morning.  When I drive lots of miles, it always feels good to get out of the car and stretch.  Extended periods of inactivity or confinement in tight spaces seem to naturally generate the need to stretch ourselves.

You know that pull in your back and your thighs when you try to touch your toes? Or the mild discomfort in your Achilles tendon when you stretch it? You have to bend a little further, reach further, or move some body part MORE than you usually do, or you have not really stretched anything! That extra is always a little uncomfortable and sometimes mildly painful, but you do it for the benefits.

And what are the benefits of stretching?  You feel better, you move better, and you avoid cramping or even injury by stretching.  No wonder it is one of the first things we do every morning!

I wonder if stretching ourselves spiritually shouldn’t be just as natural as stretching our physical body is?

It’s a new year, so I’d like to challenge us to make 2012 the year to start stretching, if it is not your current habit!

Here are some suggestions for starting your spiritual stretching.  Remember, if it is not a little uncomfortable or mildly painful, then you haven’t stretched at all.

  • Do something kind and thoughtful for someone you do not really like that much.  (Who was the first person that came to mind? That’s probably who you should choose!) And do it anonymously so that you are not worried about who gets the credit or what your motives are.
  • Sit in a very different place at church for several weeks.
  • Do your daily Bible readings out of a new modern version, not the Bible you have been using forever.
  • Give more than you have been.  How long has it been since you adjusted your weekly tithe? Or add a new regular donation to your budget for a needy person or a new mission work.
  • Read and/or research about a topic that has seems hard or uncomfortable to you. Do this long enough until you understand why other people are not uncomfortable with it.For example:
    • Homosexuality
    • Poverty and Welfare
    • Addictions and addictive behaviors
    • Contemporary vs. traditional worship
    • Islam  or Buddhism
    • Emerging Churches
    • Universal salvation vs. eternal punishment for the lost
    • Feminism
    • Non-evangelical branches of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Orthodox, Calvinism, Charismatics.  And while you are learning, visit their services and get to know people personally who belong to that group.
  • Go on a mission trip instead of a vacation this year!  If you have always done service projects, do a faith-sharing mission trip.  If you have always stayed in the U.S., go out of the country for this one.
  • Make a list of things that are not wrong to do at church—in fact, some Christians do them–, but that you personally would rather not do—then do one of them!  You might try lifting your hands while you pray—at least no one will see you! Or you might kneel to pray—if not at church, then at home! (I remember when it was common to see our preachers kneel on the stage or on the first row when they prayed! But that’s been a long time ago.)

Don’t do all these stretches at once.  Give yourself time to recover from one before you attempt another.

And, don’t forget the benefits:  you feel better (about yourself and about other people), you are more flexible and can move more easily, and you avoid injury. Many Christians have been injured and have injured others because they were inflexible.

May your New Year be not just happy, but happier because you are a healthier Christian, ready to run the race put before you!

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