The evil “age” witch struck one night while I slept unaware of her wicked work. I woke with joint stiffness not there when I went to bed. Standing up straight and walking with normal stride rather than a short-step shuffle required a minute — or two. I sat to put on my hose only to realize I couldn’t bend over far enough to reach my waiting foot.
Other little hints of advancing “maturity” plagued me. Like my Achilles tendons screaming at the end of a long day stomping up and down stairs in 2″ heels. Or like the day I couldn’t twist my neck far enough to the left or right to see behind me. I thought the coast was clear to back out my car. It wasn’t. BAM! The neighbor’s mailbox listed 45 degrees to the right.
Hearing my complaints, my ever-logical husband asked, “Are you stretching daily?”
Even my CD exercise trainer reminded me, “First, let’s warm up and stretch before we pick up the pace.”
Why? Isn’t walking up stairs and bending to insert a CD enough warm up? Right on cue, my CD companion answered, “Stretching increases your joints’ range of motion, the body’s flexibility, and coordination. How one stretches is important, too. Apply pressure just beyond the feeling of pain, and hold it for at least 10 seconds.”
As I grunted and groaned in tandem with my CD trainer, I realized God wants me to stretch, too. He applies enough pressure to extend my current abilities beyond my limitations. He uses new circumstances to increase my spiritual range of motion, improve my ability to cope with difficulties, and straighten the spiritual posture with which I approach problems.
Though initially resistant to the notion of stretching, in time I noticed a difference. I limbered up and handled what life threw at me more efficiently and — I hoped — gracefully. I reached and bent further than I thought possible.
So, now I stretch daily. Rather than quit or run away at the first sign of pain, I stay and hold on a little longer. I’m more flexible and stronger for it.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,…In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:14, 16; NIV)