I saw a funny exchange that a friend of mine put on Facebook. A person told her, “I didn’t think a Christian would be so into yoga.” She replied, “You’re right. Christians don’t normally stretch.” It hit me that she’s right more than she knows. While she was talking about physically stretching, I was thinking of spiritually stretching. It’s not something that most of us do. We prefer to leave things the way they are and to not be challenged.
Brian Tracy speaks to the Law of Inertia. It says that people continue doing what they’re doing until they’re acted upon by an outside force. It’s not until we face a trial or gave a bad day that we wake from our zombie-like spiritual existence and begin to stretch spiritually. If we don’t voluntarily stretch, God is happy to be that outside force that moves us off the path we are on. He’s not content with our spiritual contentment.
We shouldn’t be either. We should each desire to be the best Christian we can be, to have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Christ. The problem is that desire is only part of the equation. The other part is that we test our faith, push our spiritual limits and strive for the high calling in Christ Jesus. Stretching prepares us for growth. If we don’t stretch, the growth will be painful.
I’ve been in sports my whole life. Stretching has always been a part of every workout, every practice and every game. It warms up the muscles that we are about to use. I Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way.” Paul understood that our spirit needs exercise. If it needs exercise, it needs stretching. The way we do that is to put our faith to the test. We believe God for more than we think possible. I heard He’s able to do abundantly more than I could even ask or think, So why not think big?
If you don’t like to stretch, you’re not alone. Don’t wait for an outside force from God to get you to stretch your faith. Find ways today to stretch it out. Give more than you thought you could give (I’m not just talking about money here). Go farther than you thought you could go. Step into waters that are deeper than you’ve been in. Believe for more than you think is possible and watch what a God does. Don’t be a Christian who doesn’t like to stretch.
I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.
Anyone you can think of that has a great relationship with God, has the habit of prayer in their life. Just like any other relationship, it is only successful when you communicate. Communication involves sending and receiving messages. Many Christians are great at sending them to God, but have a hard time receiving them. Either they don’t spend time listening during prayer or they don’t take time to read His Word. God is speaking to each one of us, we just have to choose to listen.
Listening to God speak is as much an act of faith as anything. If we hear it enough times, we will learn to recognize when it is God speaking and when it is our mind. Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep recognize my voice” (MSG). The only way to recognize someone’s voice is to hear it several times. God expects us to daily hear what He’s trying to say to us as individuals and then to apply it to our lives. He’s giving the answers to what we are asking in prayer. If we don’t hear those answers, we aren’t listening.
One way you can know if it’s God speaking to you is that what He says will never go against what the Bible says. He is true to His Word. He doesn’t make exceptions. It’s very important to know the Bible if you’re learning to listen to God’s voice. That is the measuring stick to know if you are hearing Him. I peter 1:25 tells us that the word of the Lord will last forever. It will not be replaced. It will not be changed.
If you truly want to grow in your relationship with God, you’re going to have to spend quality time in prayer each day. Colossians 4:2 says, “Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving” (AMP). Great Christians know that the health of their relationship with God lies in their prayer life. If you want to be a better Christian, start spending more time on your knees.