devozine

Spiritual Practice

GROWING STRONGER FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Wendy LeBolt

“Mommy, when you’re 100, will you be as tall as the clouds?” my three-year-old asked. To her, growing up meant growing upward. So what was to stop me (or her) from reaching all the way to the clouds?

God didn’t design us to grow quite that tall. But when we do reach our full height, we don’t stop growing; we begin filling out and shaping up. That’s when our 700 or so skeletal muscles report for active duty, each one uniquely suited to its task. The largest can power a 100-meter sprint; the smallest controls the tiniest blink. And the more we use each one, the better it performs.

Our God-given DNA provides the blueprint for us to grow to our full stature, but the carving and contouring of our bodies requires our active participation. The more we challenge ourselves, the stronger we get. The farther we reach, the more flexibility we acquire. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Our best self is the product of accepting all challenges and growing from them.

Life is full of challenges that stretch us beyond what is comfortable or ask more of us than we think we can give. Yet when we earnestly exert ourselves, the effort makes us stronger and more capable. When we acknowledge the God who created our amazing bodies and stands with us in the challenges, we can find our edge and confidently push past it.

Instead of creating us to grow ever taller, God offers us opportunities to grow stronger from the inside out, preparing us for what is ahead. But it’s up to us to accept the challenge. Do we believe that God can do in and through us what we can’t do on our own? Then let’s ask God to work though the times that stretch us to strengthen us for whatever God is calling us to be or to do.

 

Stretch to Strengthen

Invite your body to stretch, strengthen, and praise God. To begin, practice gripping a resistance band (or a towel, tie, or short piece of rope) with your hands about shoulder width apart. Pull the band taut; feel the resistance in your hands, arms, and shoulders as you hold your torso tight.

Next, try these four strengthening stretches:

  1. Front Press. Hold band chest high, relax elbows, and press outward.
  2. Lat Pull. Move band behind your head; press it outward while pulling it downward. (Try not to bend forward at the neck.)
  3. Crisscross Press. With band in front of you, alternate pulling it vertically and horizontally to make the sign of the cross. With each vertical pull, switch the hand on top.
  4. Posture Press. Loop band around the back of your head. Hold each end firmly and keep hands still as you press your upper body backward into the band.

Now read Psalm 23 aloud, and follow the movements in the video. Let your body move and respond to these beautiful words. Repeat the stretches several times, praying the psalm and listening with your body. Adapt the movements as needed and as God leads you. Allow these stretches to strengthen your connection with God and God’s word.

GO DEEPER:

  • Where is God stretching you right now?
  • How is God strengthening you today?
  • What are you and God working out together?
  • Try creating your own choreography for Psalm 23.
Wendy LeBolt ’s blog, The Kinesthetic Christian, is the fruit of the daily stretch and strengthen program she and God do together. Her new book, Made to Move, invites you to join in this practice.

—from devozine (November/December 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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