I hate to stretch. I do not like to stretch. It hurts. It hurts all over when I stretch. It always has. Even when I was younger and in far better shape. Though, I do like power yoga, no idea why. The pain is not such an unbearable thing. It is extremely uncomfortable. Stretching makes my brain question very seriously why I am doing this to myself. Then usually my brain says stop.
They, that group of notoriously anonymous know-it-alls, say that stretching is good for you. I have no doubt that it is. It makes your muscles more supple. It makes you less prone to injury when physically active. I’m sure it does any number of other wonderful things for my body. But it hurts. No one likes to do things that hurt. Wait, most normal sane human beings who are healthy and happy, do not like to do things that are painful with no hope of instant reward. (Those of you who enjoy pain, there is another article for you coming one day. It will probably be a short one.)
Physical improvement means pain and hard work. The old muscle must be broken down and regrown and doubled. With changes comes pain. I always enjoy thinking about the Marine Corps Drill Instructor informing his recruits that pain is weakness leaving the body (though in some case its actually a serious injury).
Spiritual and life improvement will mean pain as well. We are creatures of habit. Breaking habits is a difficult thing. Think about the statement, breaking habits. Its actually a violent statement. Something is going to be broken. What that something is depends on the situation. It could be a way of living. It could be a way of reacting. It could be a way of thinking. Change will bring something we do not understand. Newness is exactly what it is. It is new, unknown.
The letter ,James, the Brother of Jesus, wrote to the church at Jerusalem had a lot of change and growth. It called for a radical change of thinking in a very boot camp style. The new Jewish-Christians were being persecuted in their own communities. Not violently, but socially, and financially. In many ways, that could be just terrible to live with. Violence is quick, the social ostracism that these early Christians faced was much longer lasting and further reaching. It caused a lot of them to fall into old habits, bad behavior, and incorrect thinking. James’ response was to stretch them. He called for change in the way of thinking. He echoed his half brother. He called for love on a level that had never been seen. James called for people to act in a way that made no sense. James told them to put themselves at the bottom of the list. Not to be doormats mind you. But to be servants. To not consider what the world calls good a thing to be sought after. Thats stretches the mind and spirit. It stretches us socially. It stretched us in our faith.
Yet, our spirit needs to be stretched. It needs to be more flexible. It needs to gain strength. We should be in a place where we are in fantastic spiritual shape. That way, when the real problems of life hit us, we have the strength to stand (notice I did not say fight, that is God’s job.) If we are in good spiritual shape, nicely stretched and ready, we will be much more able to
move when God calls us to