To Stretch or Stress…That is the Question…

23Nov07

long-stretch.jpgWe all get stressed at times. But, we most often are stretched. So what’s the difference?

To stress something is to take it to a breaking point and then find that breaking point. In other words, when things are stressed, things break. Being broken in a way as to be unusable is not a good thing.

To stretch is to take something to a point it’s never been but not to find a breaking point. It causes us to feel or see differently and it most often increases the likely hood that we will NOT break. It prepares us for activity. Sometimes there will be injury, but we will still be useful.

Our family is being stretched right now. Nothing particular, but some things more pressing than others. I often look at situations like this and feel stressed. This can be good, because I realize my shortcomings and where I am weak. But, it’s easy then to just chalk it up to stress and want to find a release instead of getting myself to where God would like me. There is nothing biblical about being stressed. But there are dozens of stories of people being stretched. I think God desires to stretch us. I think we need to continue to be refined. There is no end to this. At the conference I was at last week, Kem Meyer made mention to her churches purposeful changing of words or phrases they use. One was the phrase “spiritual maturity”. They made a point of changing this to “spiritual growth”. The reason for this was that “maturity” implied a finish. There is no finish in this life to our spiritual walk.

So what takes us from being stretched to being stressed? Focus? Attitude? Priorities? All of the above? Definitely any of these and probably more. We face opportunities of stretching in relationships, finances, work, family. The list could go on and on.

I find for myself that when I go from being stretched to allowing myself to be stressed, it usually is selfish priorities or desires at fault. God does desire for us to be broken and surrendered before Him. But this is not the same as being stressed over a situation and living in despair. God wants to break us from desires and habits. From our own needs to His. To not rely on our abilities or power, but to only rely on Him.

Matthew 6:33-34 has always been a popular passage. It should be one we memorize and meditate on daily.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

God will be faithful to remind us through His Word, that in Him, is all peace and joy. This doesn’t mean that we are always at rest and continuously happy. Those are physical things. God is more interested in our spiritual well being. Meditate on Him and His words and stretching will become a warm up for living and not a pathway to being broken so as to be unusable. I am doing my best to listen to him and learn this, right now.

Where have you found yourself to be weak or easily stretched?

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13 Responses to “To Stretch or Stress…That is the Question…”

  1. Hmmmm…. I could go on and on here… but I’ll pick one. I am weak when it comes to worrying about what I can’t change. This could be things from my distant past, or recent… like tests. I get so mad at myself for not doing well on an exam and relive it as if I could redo it! I guess it stretches me to study more… or at least better! πŸ™‚

  2. Rochelle – I am definitely with you there. We want so desperately to either control the situations we are in or change what we’ve just come through.

    “Better Studying” is good. I remember my piano teacher explaining to me that “practice does not make perfect…perfect practice makes perfect.” That always stuck with me.

  3. Brent,
    Nice post for me to read after being crammed up w/ all the kids the last few days, traveling, staying up late, having fever, not feeling good, and having all 4 kids (7 and under) home this AM, tired, experiencing the mema/papa withdrawal/nobody is holding me syndrome phase of life ….

    Fred

  4. If we were closer Fred, I’d be happy to give you a hug πŸ™‚

  5. lurve this post brent.

  6. 6 Heidi

    Brent, It seems the longer “stretch” the harder it gets, huh? but then the stress comes to more we “run to God”.
    praying for you and Tam. I pray you are running to God.

  7. Great post Brent! And it’s so true. For me, stress always seems to come when I don’t feel like being stretched. But, let’s face it…God is in the stretching buisness. He has amazing (and sometimes painful) ways of getting His children to the place He wants them to be.

    Thanks Brent!

  8. Great post!!! Such a timely word for me…Thanks!

  9. I appreciate that this post is encouraging others. God is always doing amazing things in our lives and to be able to pass that along and encourage others is always a blessing…Dare I say biblical πŸ™‚

    Anu – You have a lot of wisdom. Just keep seeking God and He will always reveal Himself to you.

    Heidi – I heard about your “weekend” I am praying for you! And I am humbled you are praying for us.

    Jim – Thanks for stopping by! God is truly in the stretching business. I have always been adventurous and I am definitely one that welcomes God’s stretching, however painful. I have always loved the image of “refining”. The angel in revelation touches the hot coals to the tongue. That can never “feel” good, but it is truly necessary.

    Skylar – Thanks for becoming a regular. Dude I love your humor and insight! Glad that we can sharpen iron with each other.

  10. Stress?? Me?? Not Lately! πŸ˜€

    Stress relief:
    Smile More πŸ™‚

    Sing More!

    Love more (Him first – then everyone else, and don’t forget the man/woman in the mirror (minus the ego, but you gotta love it too, i guess!) πŸ™‚

    See the humour in even the darkest places! Then Laugh out LOUD!

    Surround yourself with GOOD friends – the ones who stayed closest when you were poorest.

    GET MORE SLEEP! ( the good kind – not just sleep ‘time’) If you snore ( Hi Brent!) you should seek a Professional and get help! – if required… your wife or spouse will be the best judge of the size of the problem – don’t live in ‘denial’ unless you are an African Alligator!) πŸ™‚

    Stress comes from not delegating enough of life’s ‘little’ ( Big!) troubles over to Him!

    Try is His way First you will know when you are on the right ‘track’ when all things start turning out just the way you would have asked for them to! (like free parking places in the shade, in the city, have for me for the past week or more, and how green lights occur more when i am going WITH the flow than wishing i was the one actually ‘in charge’ and am in a ‘rush’ (stress out place).

    it works for me anyways πŸ™‚

    G’Day Brent – got your hug yet?? πŸ˜‰

    love

  11. Isn’t it just like God to cause us to feel out of conrol to gain self control? HE seems to do it to me all the time…lately I have been asking HIM to teach me whatever I need to learn in the “stressful” situations , b/c I think they are actually the “stretching” moments. Seems to make rough times more bearable knowing it is just a learning time…and HE is good, and is always looking out for my best interest that would glorify HIM. What do athletes say? “no pain no gain”

    Praying for you and Tam, and looking forward to meeting you all in June! πŸ™‚

  12. Here is another way of LOOKING – at stress and it’s effect upon our human body…

    http://www.iblindness.org/intro/whofor.html

    Some people just love wearing and paying for glasses!

    love

  13. Love – I always get hugs around here πŸ™‚

    Also, that link is pretty interesting…

    Darla – Thanks for the prayers!



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