But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT
Once upon a time, I ran—and realized I had better stretch before I did.
Walking had always been a favorite exercise for me. Not too strenuous, and easy on the knees. This prepared me for the hiking in the mountains that various family members and I did for several years. A little more strenuous on the knees. Then one day, I got the urge to begin running. Since my daughter was a track and cross-country runner, I knew I needed to stretch before I took off down the road. I watched the stretches she did and followed suit. I suppose running exercised more muscles, so the chances of sustaining an injury were greater with running than with walking.
Even with the stretches, I found myself continually battling shin splits. I’d buy medical implements designed to help relieve the pain and walk until they healed, but as soon as I’d start running again, they would re-appear. I finally gave up on running and stuck to walking.
Though it seems inconceivable, God stretched as well. I discovered a little stretching wouldn’t do the trick. The chances of injury increased if I slacked off on my stretching time—something I hated to do. (I preferred just taking off without any preparation.)
According to Paul, God’s stretch was lengthy and had far-reaching consequences. He stretched all the way to earth and to the humans He had created—as well as to all their descendants. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, God sacrificed an animal, and then used the skin to make a covering for their nakedness. But sacrifices were only temporary.
Thousands of years later, God stretched a little farther by sending His Son to die a cruel death on a rugged cross. We had failed to stretch to God, so He stretched to us. This stretch encompassed everyone who had ever lived or would ever live. Sin had injured the entire human race.
My stretching was voluntary—and so was God’s. He was under no obligation to treat our injuries. Love demanded He intervene, but I have to respond to God’s stretch. As His hand reaches out to me, I must reach out to Him in faith and take hold. Not by good works, popularity, or through a payment. Just faith…plain and simple.
Have you responded to God’s stretch?
Prayer: Father, we thank You for stretching down in love, grace, and mercy to take care of our sinful needs.