Have you ever felt so stretched beyond yourself that you were certain you could not go one step further? Maybe you are not stretched in the physical sense, but in your faith. Does it seem like God is asking you to do something that makes no sense at all, seems impossible, or has you just plain scared out of your wits? These are the times when God does His best work…and His best work in us when we are willing to surrender our will for His.
This past summer I had several weeks that had seriously stretched me physically due to my chronic illness. One week in particular, I was simply running on fumes and God’s grace. After the joy and busyness of a new grandchild being born, our other daughter-in-law became very ill and ended up having a surgery. I spent a lot of time taking care of toddler grandbabies….much more than a once a week playdate with Grandma! My oh my, how those precious babies can wear this ol’ grandma out! I was stretched far beyond my physical limits. Though completely exhausted, God did strengthen me to do what was necessary…until we got reinforcements!
I got to thinking about examples in the Bible of those who were stretched beyond their limits not only physically, but spiritually. The Bible is full of examples from cover to cover because honestly, that’s what this walk of faith is all about. It’s not so much about us…but about the work of Christ in us. It is about completely surrendering our own will for His perfect will. It’s about getting out of our own heads and reasoning, and trusting Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on (or rely on) your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Caring for my grandbabies is what started this train of thought, so two women came to my mind; Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Sarah. They were both stretched…physically and spiritually.
Mary was very young, quite probably no more than thirteen or fourteen years old, and a virgin. She was espoused to Joseph, meaning engaged, though much more serious and binding than today’s engagement is considered. She was visited by an angel who told her she was to carry and give birth to the Son of God. After initially asking the angel;
“How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34
she listened to his explanation and replied;
“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Mary completely surrendered her own will for God’s. But this is not something to just skip over. In that culture, being espoused to a man and pregnant with a child that was not his…
- She would be labeled a fornicator
- She could have been ostracized from her family and community
- Joseph had every right to not only “divorce” her, but to have her stoned to death.
Choosing to say yes to God and His plan for her stretched her greatly, because it came with great personal risk. Yet she trusted God. How? She trusted Him because she already had an intimate relationship with Him. She knew Him well enough to accept His plan for her and rest in His love. I firmly believe she experienced an even greater, sweeter intimacy with God the rest of her life. One that never would have come about had she not allowed herself to be stretched beyond her own comfort and reasoning.
Then there is Sarah, the wife of Abraham, father of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:2-8). Now for those of us who have been pregnant, who have raised toddlers (thinking terrible two’s and trying three’s here!), and who are shall we say, more mature in years…can you even imagine being pregnant at ninety years old???! Even Sarah couldn’t imagine it. Scripture tells us she stood in the door of the tent and laughed when she overheard the Lord tell Abraham that Sarah would have a son at this time next year (Gen. 18:9-15).
Sarah initially laughed, but she ultimately believed God. She had faith that He would do what He said He would do. And mostly…she cooperated with God. She surrendered to His will. Can you even imagine the flood of hormones coursing through her ninety year old body to prepare it to conceive and carry a child? What about the strength God had to have given her ninety year old body to physically endure carrying a child for nine months, let alone delivering that child. Oh yeah. I don’t think I will ever again doubt Sarah’s faith because of her initial doubt and a little nervous laughter. This kind of faith and obedience stretched her patience, stretched her faith, and stretched her physically…as well as her ninety year old belly!
Isaac…who’s name means “laughter”, was the promised son. Born to an old woman and man because they believed God. They were both stretched beyond belief when God tested Abraham and told him to sacrifice his promised son Isaac. Many times, obedience requires great risk, but it is always rewarded, and in ways we could never imagine.
I encourage you to read Abraham and Sarah’s story. It starts toward the end of Genesis 11 in the genealogy, and runs through to chapter 25:11 when Abraham dies. I hope you take some time to read it. Your spirit will be fed and your heart blessed.
The point of all this? Are you in a situation where you are being stretched, physically or spiritually? Is God calling you to do something that makes no sense to you, or terrifies you? Spend time in His word and in prayer. Take some time to simply be still in His Presence. Ask Him to strengthen you for whatever the result of your obedience may be. Whatever that result may be…it will pale in comparison to His hand of blessing on you for your faith and obedience.
We can never go wrong saying “yes” to whatever God has for us to do, however He wants to use us. Allow yourself to be stretched and He will give you strength to endure and blessings you never thought possible.
God’s greatest blessings are born out of the greatest faith.
Will you say “Yes” to Him today?
If you are encouraged, would you please leave a comment or share with someone else?