Mourning Stretches

Saturday sun rays crept between the blinds. Eight o’clock am. I adore this golden hour, meaning freedom to sleep extra and to slow down after a busy week. All I wanted was to shrink back into my comforter, make a latte, and maybe garage sale — and clean my house. These are what I consider gifts of the weekend.

But a friend — moving out of her home — invited me to help her clean her house.

If I were moving, I’d want help, and I desired to see my friend before she left for awhile. But I also felt the tension that this golden hour belonged to me and I needed it. Why would I give up this precious morning?

I didn’t have to. I believe it’s perfectly reasonable to say “no” and use time to refresh my own home and soul.

But I also knew I had nothing pressing, and I wanted to fight my flesh on this one.

Left to my selfishness, I wouldn’t trade anything for an hour of snoozing. The only reason I would deny what I want is because Jesus died for me and my love belongs to Him. My old desires are traded for His pure, loving ones. 

The Proverbs 31 woman inspires me to stretch (not the make-me-sore kind of stretches, but the stretches that take me beyond my comfort zone).

See below.

She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20

Proverbs 31 highlights a woman who fears God and as a result her life bears the fruit of

  • trustworthiness
  • compassion
  • strength
  • hard work
  • resourcefulness
  • fearlessness
  • dignity
  • wisdom
  • kindness

From this fruit, her tangible outlets were spindles, scarlet and purple clothing, food for her maidens, and fields she bought.

I won’t be buying a field any time soon (though that would be really cool) and I dislike sewing. But the message here for women is to fear God, who is the source of these fruits like trustworthiness and fearlessness.

Stretching Outward

Your tangible outlets will look modern — different than the Proverbs 31 woman’s. However, the people mentioned in chapter 31 are timeless. The poor and needy have all different shapes and seasons and we’re called as believers to reach out to them. And Christ’s love is still the only thing that can mobilize us to serve others above ourselves.

Do you know needy people?

I promise you do. They’re right in your church, not necessarily homeless but still needy. If you don’t recognize them, look closer and listen harder. It could be a sister or a co-worker or a teacher. It might be the person that looks like they have it all together.

I Peter 4:8-9 states,

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

I recently discovered that fervent literally means “strained.” Verbs called “extend” and “stretch” and “strain” aren’t comfort material like lattes and garage saleing.

Love (the fervent kind) isn’t born out of my own heart which “is a factory of idols” (John Calvin). Our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). My own heart won’t get me out of bed for someone else . .  . ever.

So . . . we reach out to the Lord!

Stretching to the Source

I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:6

This is a two-way thing because even before I stretch my hands to the One who stretched out the Heavens, His gracious hand reaches toward me in mercy.

Stretching Down First

When we request His help, He rescues us from our fleshly temptations. You and I can pray these words:

Stretch forth Your hand from on high; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters… Psalm 144:7

The needs are vast, and God stretches forth His hand from on high and uses His servants to show love.

That’s why I could roll out of bed on a Saturday to vacuum closets and dust baseboards for my friend. Not mournfully, but joyfully, because even Saturday morning stretches are worth it.

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