As I said in my blog entitled Flyin’ High (January 11, 2009), my wife inspired me with her blog on selecting one word to describe yourself for the year. Unfortunately I’m very indecisive and have had a hard time narrowing down my selection. I started with a list of several hundred. I think I’m down to 20 or so (but the list keeps growing). To help me pick I’ve decided to blog on those that seem relevant (what else would I blog on). Maybe that will help me narrow my selection.
We all (or most of us) remember the book by Bruce Wikinson titled The Prayer of Jabez. The entire short book focuses on 1 Chronicles 4:10, “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
I’m not writing to debate the validity of this book, but I was reminded of Jabez and his prayer this weekend while traveling to Honduras with Buckner and a group from the Midland Christian festival Rock the Desert.
Over the past four years God has done wonders to broaden the horizon of this small town farm boy. As a matter of fact, my growth really began 10 plus years ago when my dad took me on my first mission trip to Romania and Russia. Until that time the biggest stretch I had experienced was moving to College Station (no Aggie jokes). What followed were short stints to Kenya, Guatemala, and numerous visits to Romania. On top of that we lived in Romania for a year and covered most of Europe during that time. I was even able to ski the Swiss Alps on my 30th birthday.
Since my employment with Buckner I have been blessed to visit Russia, Romania, Latvia, Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and now Honduras. Strange enough I probably read The Prayer of Jabez, and more than likely prayed the very same prayer, in 2000. Man how my territory has expanded since then.
For the first time in my life I’ve begun to look at “expansion” in an entirely different way. Sure my experiences have expanded the past 10 years by visiting a number of countries. Without a doubt my family has expanded the last four years with the addition of two little ones. My thought process has even expanded as I have been exposed to so many wonderful Buckner ministries. But is there more to this expansion thing? I’m starting to think there is.
To me, expansion should also mean getting out of our comfort zone. Visualize an old worn out sweatshirt. I have this yellow sweatshirt that is two sizes too big. I’ve owned it for over 10 years. I’m not sure why I bought it. It is so very ugly. I don’t think I ever wore it out of the house. However, I put it on every evening when I get home from work. Kacee hates it. I call it Ole’ Yeller. I even wore it when Becton was born (I was sick, cold, and I had it in my bag). If Kacee believed she could get away with it I know she would throw it away. Anyhow, I digress. Over time this shirt has stretched and stretched to the point that it is a lot bigger than it once was. However, I’ve never noticed (maybe because I’m a lot bigger than I used to be as well). None-the-less it is still the same shirt. Our comfort zone is somewhat the same way. It slowly stretches with a few little things here and there, but we really never realize it is expanding. That is good. A little stretching does us all some good. As we grow, so grows our comfort zone.
As good as a little stretching is for our personal development an occasional expansion beyond just a little stretch will do us all some good. As Brennan Manning once said, “If we are going to keep on growing, we must keep on risking failure throughout our lives.” Why not take a risk? Do something you would never do in a million years. Follow a dream you’ve had for ever. Take that leap of faith.
Expansion may be my favorite “word of the year” yet. Unlike Ole’ Yeller it just seems to fit for the place I find myself today. Maybe you should join me. If we all wore ugly yellow sweatshirts no one would think anything of it.
Stretch on! Aspire to new heights.
4 weeks ago