What can you stretch so you can strengthen?

In A Rut Above The Rest: Week #2, John Shibley challenges us to stretch ourselves this week.

I hate stretching.  Ok, for you dogmatic, stiff-necked Christians, lighten up.  I can say ‘hate’.  I have, without a doubt, the tightest hamstrings of any middle-aged Caucasian American male.  If I could commit to stretching them regularly, I could eliminate a majority of my lower back soreness and tightness.  It’s an odd but relevant metaphor for life.  Sometimes short-term discomfort can improve long-term quality of life.  If we are committed to stretching beyond our limits in other areas of life, we position ourselves for growth and strength.  God promises to show up and exceed our expectations when we take risks and activate our faith in areas of uncertainty (Eph 3:20, James 2:26).  I would speculate that most of us have grown accustomed to the same repetition in our daily activities.  I have been known to create muscle memory through habitual behavior that I could do with my eyes closed.  It is comfortable and mindless which requires minimal thought.  It is safe and predictable but leads to a stale and stagnant frame of mind, often lacking ambition.

Question#2:  What can you stretch so you can strengthen?  What risks are you willing to take to stretch beyond your comfort zone?  Maybe it’s not as dangerous as you think.  Maybe all you need to fear is the prohibitive pride that keeps you from trying new things.  The fear of failing or looking ridiculous prevents us from ever stepping out on a ledge that could expose a gift we’ve never discovered.  We assume others are judging our every move and maneuver when, in reality, nobody ever takes us as seriously as we take ourselves.  In my case, I wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember.  I always had an excuse or insecurity that extended my timeline to ‘maybe someday’ or ‘maybe after I’.  Decades later, it took a pandemic and a quarantine to force me into finally stepping out in faith.  After five self-published books to date, I regret disqualifying myself and delaying the mission God designed for me.  I believe God gives us gifts that are unique for our sphere of influence and meant to be used in a way that honors him and serves His people.  Fear and pride keep us paralyzed and complacent.  However, God empowers us to avoid such tragedy.  Taking calculated risks enables us to sidestep the hazards that a rut presents when we throw caution to the wind in the name of obedience and faith.  Many of you have been stifling a gift and ignoring the nudges of the Holy Spirit for too long.  Sometimes we need to find another gear and accelerate into an unknown realm that could be the gateway to a bigger purpose.

An engine that reaches new levels of performance is often the recipient of added features or enhancements.  A wise wrench-turner understands the value of new, efficient, and well-oiled equipment that embodies a finely-tuned machine.  Refining our skill set and knowledge base isn’t much different.  Our mind is a magnificent machine that has unlimited creative, analytical, and reasoning capabilities.  It’s the muscular engine of our Central Processing Unit and requires a regular influx of healthy stimuli and information.  The reason many of us fall into a rut is because we stop growing and learning.  Some of us convince ourselves that we already know enough or that we are past the point of no return for consuming and applying new educational information.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be at a party or gathering and talk about more than just last night’s game or the best rub seasoning for a brisket (and I love me a good brisket)?  Learning a new skill like restoring old furniture or spreading spiritual encouragement through a podcast platform are just a few different avenues that are foreign territory for many, but that could be a transformational breath of fresh air.  Aligning your gifts with your passion in a way that thrusts you into a new mission or purpose could be just what the doctor ordered for a new lease on life.

”Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,“
Ephesians‬ 3‬:20‬ 

”For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.“
James‬ 2‬:26‬ 


  • Learn a new hobby this week
  • Check out a book at the public library 
  • Phone a friend who knows more than you about a new topic of interest