December 1, 2012
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:24-25
This story comes from a retired Baptist pastor who, himself, was the son of a Baptist preacher. It concerns events that took place more than a hundred years ago.
The old preacher started, "I was just a child, when one spring day my father called me to go with him to old man Russell's blacksmith shop. Dad had left a rake and a hoe to be repaired and now they were ready. Knowing Mr. Russell, we were sure those tools would have been fixed, so they were now as good as new.
Indeed, that was the case. After my father had spent a moment admiring the blacksmith's work, he tried to pay the forgeman with a silver dollar. At least he tried to pay the man. Mr. Russell refused the offer.
My father insisted. Mr. Russell once again declined by saying, "Pastor, there's no charge for that little job." Frustrated, father tried one more time to make good on his debt. That's when the blacksmith put his head down, looked to the side and whispered, "Reverend, can't you just let a man do something to stretch his soul?"
I like the concept of soul-stretching, that is, doing just a little bit more than you have to, just for the satisfaction of it.
I think the Lord likes it, too.
If you look, you will find soul-stretching occasionally popping up in the Bible. When Zacchaeus gave away half of all he owned, that was some soul-stretching. The woman who anointed Jesus' feet with oil and dried them with her hair was soul-stretching. The poor widow who put all she had into the temple treasury ... that lady was doing some serious soul-stretching.
Please note, these soul-stretchers are not the great heroes of the Bible. Some of them are not named, and most of them appear for just a few verses, and then they are gone.
Even so, the Holy Spirit challenged them to stretch their hearts and souls and then enabled them to respond with joy to their Lord. The spirit of what they did and the way they did it was important enough that it was recorded in the Bible for all time.
Now I don't know if the Lord has ever given you an opportunity for soul-stretching.
Whether He has in the past or not is unimportant. What is important is that if He gives you a special opportunity to show your thanks to the Redeemer, you may want to respond with a glad heart and go above and beyond.
You may want to see your soul get stretched.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You sent Your Son to save me. Now, when I am given an opportunity to express my thanks, may I do the same with joy. Please let my soul be stretched to glorify You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries