Every two to three years, God takes me through some faith stretching exercises of Olympic proportions. I’d like to tell you I come through them breaking records and posing like Usain Bolt at the end of another gold medal triumph.
But the truth is, I usually come through them weary and tired. More like a dazed boxer who took a hard blow to the head.
You’d think, after all these years, I’d be used to God’s faith growing training regimen. You’d think I’d train in the off-season. But every time God stretches my faith, I wonder why my world is falling apart and only understand in hindsight that is actually falling into place.
Here are a few faith stretchers God took me through in the past 10 years:
- I started my own business
- I went back to college as a “non-traditional student”
- I started another business (a non-profit this time)
- I wrote a book
Each of these events seem pretty innocuous on their own. They look more like a busy woman’s madness than faith stretching events.
But I am here to testify that God used each of these events to stretch my faith and grow me up.
- Each faith stretcher included a series of trials so heavy, I nearly buckled under the weight of them.
- Each faith stretcher required me to take great leaps of faith into the scary unknown of God’s will.
- Each faith stretcher required a dependence on and trust in God like I have never known before.
Faith Stretchers are for our Good
Romans 8:28 says,”And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
We tend to grab hold of this verse when things are hard because we need to be reminded that something good will come from our trials. And that is exactly what God intends with faith stretchers.
Faith Stretchers are for God’s Glory
Each faith stretcher is uniquely designed by our loving Father to bring glory to Himself through our growth.
What is the ultimate goal of every faith stretcher? To make us look more like Jesus.
Look at the next two verses in Romans:
“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” (Romans 8:29-30 NLT)
That takes some major work, and intense training schedule, and a lot of faith stretchers because when we first come to Christ, we don’t look like Him at all.
At the end of each faith stretcher, we look a little more like Jesus, and this brings God glory.
Now your faith stretching training schedule might not look like mine. Maybe God has you faith stretching every six months, or every six years. Maybe your faith stretchers last for days or weeks, maybe they go one for months or years.
Regardless of the schedule,faith stretchers follow the same sequence pattern:
- Trials and Testings
1. Trials and Testings
Faith stretchers start with trials and testings entering into our lives because God needs to get our attention and shake us out of our complacency.
To get maximum results in muscle building one must first rip the muscle, tearing it in order to build it up stronger than before.
The same is true in faith stretchers. God uses the trials to prune out the bad so He can grow the good. God uses the testings to tear our faith muscles and make it stronger.
The trials and testings take us from independence from God to dependence on Him.
In order to come out the other side of our faith stretchers with a growth in our faith, we must come to a place of surrender.
The length of your training regimen correlates directly to how long it takes you to surrender to God’s working through the faith stretcher He has assigned to you.
Surrender is where the breaking ends and the growth begins.
The next growth step after the necessary surrender is obedience. Whatever God is growing through your faith stretcher must result in some type of action to achieve the maximum growth result.
If God is calling me to take a step of faith outside my comfort zone and into the faith zone, I must obey. This is where the real growth takes place.
Obedience has gotten a bad wrap. It’s often seen as perfunctory and anything but glamorous, yet it’s where the miraculous happens. It pushes us into acting upon what little faith we have so we can grow bigger faith.
Delayed obedience is disobedience.
Partial obedience is disobedience.
God always blesses obedience. And faith stretchers, when they are completed, are always followed by blessing from God. The blessing of a stronger faith, the blessing of seeing God at work in our lives, the blessing of doing God’s will, and the blessing of looking more like Jesus.
As a marathon runner crosses the line, they are no longer thinking about the months of intense training, or even of the last grueling 26.2 miles, they are focused on the victory and the accomplishment.
The joy of victory is part of the blessing faith stretchers bring.
In my faith stretchers, the blessing is a recovery and rest time. It’s a place of reflection for what I learned through the process, and how God grew me.
When the trials and testings start to come again, I know another faith stretcher has arrived.
If you feel like your faith stretcher has gone on for too long and you aren’t seeing the blessings, check to see where you have stalled in your training. Maybe you haven’t surrendered. Maybe your obedience isn’t complete. Faith stretchers shouldn’t last forever.
What about you?
Can you look back on your life and see the faith stretchers?
How have those faith stretchers helped you grow up in your faith?
Are you in a faith stretcher now?
Are you stalled or are you pressing through the faith stretcher, to experience the blessings on the other side?
Share your faith stretcher experiences with us in the comment section below.