Have you ever felt like you were being stretched to the limit?
I certainly have. There have been times when I wondered if I could bear another moment of grief, shame or pain. I just needed a moment of relief, or I might snap in half.
Stretching is Healthy
However, stretching is a healthy part of life. Without stretching there is no growth. If a child does not grow, we get very concerned and make doctors and specialist appointments in an effort to determine the problem. The athlete stretches before, during and after a play in order to have the greatest range of motion and to perform at their peak. A hunter pulls the bow its max in order to release the arrow at the greatest velocity possible. The farther we are stretched, the farther we will go.
When Jesus was on the earth he had a message to share that made a lot of people very excited, and others very upset. He came to bring something new, but this new message would stretch some people to the breaking point.
You are Stretching me!
In Matthew 9:15-17, Jesus tells a parable about cloth and wine. Jesus had a way of using ordinary, everyday examples to make a profound point of eternal significance. He said that you don’t put a patch of new cloth on an old garment or put new wine into old wineskins. The reason? New cloth will shrink once it has been washed and pull away from the old material, leaving a gaping hole. So much for all the mending work! And new wine ferments and expands in a wineskin. Wineskins were made of animal skins. New skins would be able to expand with the expanding wine, while brittle, old wineskins would not be able to stretch. The result? A really big mess.
The point of all of this?
A New Thing
Jesus came to earth to do a new thing, to pour out new wine that would purify the people and fill them with joy unlike anything else they had experienced before. But this new teaching couldn’t be added to their old religious structures. The old structures could not contain the new teaching. It would require something new altogether. In the same way, we can’t just add Jesus on to our lives like we would add a bracelet or watch to an outfit. Jesus needs to do a new work in us from head to toe. And sometimes even the good structures we have in our lives and churches need to change as well.
And this can be a stretching experience.
At times the new wine that Jesus wants to bring can make us uncomfortable and cause us to stretch in ways we thought we never could! Faith grows by taking steps that aren’t always certain.
Worth The Pain
But the payoff is worth all the stretch marks. Jesus wants to grow us and launch us into a future of blessing and goodness. He wants to work in us to do great things for the people around us. This holds true for us personally and as a church.
I believe our greatest days are still ahead of us.
Jesus is stretching us like a slingshot is pulled back…so that on its release it can shoot higher and farther and faster.
There are awesome things that God wants North Pointe to accomplish to bring Real Hope, New Life, and Lasting Purpose to the people “beyond our green fence.”
Let me assure you, the stretching will be worth it.