Imagine a painted balloon. This balloon is half inflated and completely painted over. It’s easy to imagine what would happen if the balloon were next fully inflated. Naturally the paint would fracture initially and, as more air is added, the brittle paint sections would fall off the balloon all together.
How does this scenario relate to our life in Christ? There are two biblical truths that we can apply.
1. God breathes life. Our first, physical example of this comes from creation in Genesis.
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
However, God also renews our hopeless circumstances. Again, he breathes new life. In Ezekiel 37, God takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones (dead corpses). He demonstrates how he rebuilds our lives from wreckage into victory. Ezekiel reports the scene and God’s instructions.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)
2. God desires to stretch us, to move us from a self-absorbed life into a new reality that mimics Jesus Christ.
Jesus constantly encouraged His disciples and followers to reassess their motives, actions, and faith. We know the story of Jesus walking on water. As He walked by the disciples’ boat, Peter called out to Him.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)
Jesus’ response was clear: “Come”. He was calling Peter to stretch in his faith and step forward into an impossible circumstance as He followed Jesus. [This is God’s specialty by the way. He shows up in the impossible!]
One of my favorite biblical examples of God’s response to our stretching is found in I Kings 17. In this situation, a woman has lost her son. To make matters worse, Elijah had prophesied the birth of this son to the woman. The situation is dire and Elijah (literally) stretched in his faith in God’s power to meet the challenge.
Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. (I Kings 17:21-22)
God joins us when we stretch toward Him. He runs to us just as the father of the prodigal son.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
Let’s return to the painted balloon. Let’s now imagine that WE are the painted balloon. We find ourselves to be half inflated and covered by this restrictive, concealing paint layer: past experiences, harbored resentment, current difficulties, fear, anger, pride… We may have many paint layers in fact. Here’s the truth, though. God will breathe new life into us to stretch and expand us. As we stretch, the brittle paint will shatter and fall away. We will grow into a new life made possible by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Get stretched, shake off the paint, and rise! It’s what God desires for you.