A patient asked the other day, “As I age, what is the most important exercise I can do?” I proceeded to tell her that as we age, our muscles lose their elasticity and we become increasingly less flexible. I told her the best idea for her was to incorporate walking into her routine but even more important was to stretch. Stretching is a great way (and really only way) to provide the body with the flexibility it needs to sustain vitality. This patient then said, “But I don’t like stretching and I am not sure I am doing it right.” To that I said, no one really loves to stretch but that does not make it any less important for you. And not knowing is a poor excuse, I can show you or you can go to a class for proper technique. If you want to remain flexible and have decreased incidence of injury and pain – you have to stretch. Think about this – as we stretch – we gain energy, flexibility, upright posture, decreased pain and overall increased health. So if that is true, why don’t we do it? Is it not worth the effort? Is it because we don’t have time? What prevents us from being flexible?
As I thought about this exchange we my patient – my mind turn to my spiritual health. What if the above conversation went like this? A patient asked, “As I age, what is the important spiritual exercise I can do?” I proceeded to tell her that as we age, our minds become less elastic and we become increasingly less flexible and set in our ways. I told her the best idea was for her to incorporate prayer and bible reading into her routine but also allow herself to be stretched. Stretching (putting herself in situations that are beyond her or talking to people that she normally would not) is a great way to provide the mind and heart with the flexibility it needs to sustain vitality. This patient said, “But I don’t know how to pray and I don’t understand the Bible and I am not a people person and when I talk about Christ, I am unsure if I am doing it right?” To that I quoted Oswald Chambers. He said, “Prayer does not prepare us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” I told her that prayer was a vital part of you she is. And I told her as far as not understanding the Bible was a poor excuse for not reading it for truly no one completely understands it because its love is deep and wide and high. However, the Bible contains the mind of God and the very life we need. How can she not read it? And the beauty of ‘not doing it right,’ well no one does it right because all of testimonies are unique and wonderful. So I told her just to share her story and shared this verse with her. “We overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.” (Rev. 12:11) I told her if she wanted to remain flexible – growing spiritually and have decreased incidents of anger (or whatever she continually struggles with) – she has to stretch. Think about this – as we stretch – we gain perspective, hope, upright posture (knowing who we are), decreased judgemetns and overall increased health (love for people). So if that is true, why don’t we do it? Is it not worth the effort? Is it because we don’t’ have time? What prevents us from being flexible?
Many things prevent us from being flexible but You see – just like a physical body needs to be flexible so does our spiritual body? I am not talking about wavering on the truth of Jesus Christ – who He is or His atoning work on the cross. I am speaking to thinking I am right and this person is wrong because they go to a different denominational church or that is not the way I worship so I can’t associate with them. Maybe it is something as simple as seeing a person with a tattoo and automatically thinking they cannot love Christ because of it. Or the reverse maybe – seeing someone that loves to wear a tie and thinking they are ‘too uptight’ to free in Christ. It’s just nuts how inflexible we really are! I had a friend visit a house church, an Assembly of God church, a non-denominational church and a Baptist church. When I asked here he was going to go – his words stirred me. He said, “I can’t decide because I see Christ in all of them.” My spiritual body was immediately stretched b/c I wonder how many members of the AG church would say that about the Baptist church or vice versa. Or more pointed what would I say? My friend was willing to be stretched and He saw Christ. My friends, we have to be willing to stretch both physically and spiritually if we desire a healthy life. To not stretch makes us rigid – and rigidity leads to death.
Prayer – Jesus, let Your love for me move me – let it stretch the boundaries of my heart and mind. I do not want to become rigid. I desire life and life to its fullest!