There’s a term running around churches right now. It usually goes something like this: “It was not something I was comfortable with, I feel like God was stretching me.” Really? What are you made of? Rubber? No… It’s more like a new pair of pants. Sometimes, they need to “stretch” into place to be more useable.
A couple of years ago, my wife, the kids and I went down to the big city Thanksgiving weekend. We don’t usually shop that weekend because of how busy it is, but we went to a craft show at the fairgrounds. I used to go to this one quite a bit before I was married. It had grown.
The show was awesome and we found a veritable plethora of gifts to choose from. One booth was exclusively African imports. They had a djembe (pronounced jem-bay) hand drum that was made in Kenya. Actually, they had several, but one just jumped out at me. The craftsman had left a ring of fur on the goat skin head, creating a one of a kind drum. As beautiful as the drum was, it had an even more incredible bass sound to it with a perfect rim twang. The importer was there and knew very well how to play. We bought it and it is often part of our worship time in church.
To get this awesome sound tuned into what it is now, the architect had to take this simple piece of goat skin and slowly, methodically stretch it into place. Something that is quite a process. First, a ring has to be made that will fit snugly over the head or top of the drum. That ring is attached to rope that is tied in an ever decreasing web-like design around the skinnier base. The skin is placed between the ring and the head of the drum. The webbing is slowly tightened more and more. This pulls down on the ring until the skin begins to stretch, fitting tightly over the drum. The tighter the stretch, the more beautiful the melodies that produce the rhythms we so love to hear. A good tuner can get a myriad of tones from different drums according to the tightness of their heads.
Sometimes I feel like a goat skin drum head. Stretched. I play the drum set in our worship team. All around the heads there are wing nuts. You use these wing nuts to tighten, loosen or remove the heads. As they age, the heads require more and more tightening. As we draw nearer the Lord, He will continue to stretch us. It is not until we are stretched that we make beautiful sounds. Christ calls us to “harmonize“ with Him. Harmony is produced when two different sounds work well together. If the drum heads are lose, they sound horrible. When we insist upon being the type of Christian “we” choose to be instead of being what Christ directs us to become, we are useless to Him.
Stretching in the Lord comes in many forms. Very often, it happens through trials. Oops, I said the “T” word. Trials will make or break us. And, many times, we experience them over and over. Usually because we aren’t learning anything. Or, we aren’t “stretching.” Stretching also occurs when people come into our life that are unlikable. The transient that hasn’t bathed in a month. The sister-in-law with the big mouth. The customer with the “I never do anything wrong” attitude.
I recently experienced that last one. I was doing him a favor and he had an attitude. God impressed on me to be gentle and loving. Give him the best you have, I felt the Lord say. In the end, not only was he nice, but from nowhere, he produced a tip. A blessing from Jesus.
Stretching is a good thing. Not always a fun thing, but a good thing. So…Go ahead, stretch out.
Excellent and well-written. We are never going to get "stetched" while we remain in our comfort zones. It is easy to say, "Order my steps, Lord." But it takes strength and faith to actually take those steps, especially when it is stepping out of our comfort zone. Thank you for sharing! Be Blessed!