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“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” —Isaiah 54:2

As a child, sitting in the willow tree in my backyard gave me a new perspective of the world. If I followed the reach of its branches out far enough, I could see two streets over, where an ivy vine wrapped itself around my neighbors’ gutter. I would sit there, safe in the arms of that strong tree, and think about the differences in the willow and the vine.

The willow had a thick trunk, ideal for climbing. Whether sunshine or rain, the willow offered a sanctuary from the conditions, all the while soothing my mind with its long flowing branches. The tree reminded me of a wise and gentle grandmother cradling me in her soft limbs. But the vine looked flimsy. She was pretty and green, but I knew that if I tried to climb the vine, I would instantly fall. The vine needed the gutter to wrap itself around, while my tree remained strong year-round. I remember wanting to be like that glorious willow. I wanted to be a comforting yet firm presence, someone whose reach was far, whose perspective was wide, and whose roots were deep.

Sadly, I have often lived more like the ivy vine, all tangled up in myself, stuck in the gutter. I was flimsy and depended on others, such as my father, for my own strength. But surprisingly, what has enabled me to more closely resemble the willow—stretched and not twisted—has been pain. Trials and challenges have caused me to widen my horizons, to learn how strong I am and to have solid roots, like the beautiful tree I admired so much.

When we stretch ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually, we shake off our stiffness, our distorted selves, and open up to the world and the people around us. Stretching invigorates the body, mind, and soul. And with our limbs fully elongated, we can feel God’s pleasure; we are the beauty of His creation.

Theresa’s Top Three for Stretching

  1. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Take a few moments to stretch your back, neck and shoulders several times a day.
  2. Reach out and help another person, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.
  3. Remember that hardships and trials that stretch you, while hard, bring you closer to God.

Lord, my prayer today is that I would grow stronger in my faith as I stretch my arms out in service to You. Help me to be an extension of You as I reach out to others. Strengthen my weak limbs and equip me with Your sword of truth. You are the vine, and I am one of Your branches; may I honor You in all that I do today. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.