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Faith Stretch Marks

Stephanie Caro

What will it cost you to impact a generation of children to love Jesus for a lifetime? It may not be pretty, but it'll definitely leave the marks of giving life to others. And it's worth it!

In my social circle of women, we're of an age where any new stretch marks come from eating too much Haagen-Dazs ice cream. My years of childbearing stretch marks are behind me. And it's an unspoken rule among my girlfriends that this topic is off the tea table 'cause it just ain't pretty.

We all know that physical stretch marks happen when one's body exceeds the size its skin is fitted for. Without getting too graphic, these unsightly marks or scars appear when we push our skin beyond its "comfort zone." Women notoriously get stretch marks during pregnancy, when God works the miracle of giving life to his children. But stretch marks are equal-opportunity offenders: Men tend to get them when they pretend they're eating for two along with their wives. Or when they build bigger muscles.

Faith stretch marks are a little different. They exist on the inside of our hearts and minds, invisible to the casual observer. They spring forth in those moments when we're pulled and stretched like Spandex fabric, from many sides. They're etched in the constant strain of demand--when everyone at church (teachers, the board, parents, pastors, custodians, fifth-grade boys) wants or needs something. They arise during the times when you question your abilities, your effectiveness, even your faithfulness. You long to nurture a growing children's ministry...but you're not sure you'll survive the long gestation period.

I'll give you a great example of a stretch mark from my ministry world just today: I "volun-told" my youth small group to sponsor a "Kids Movie Night/Parent's Night Out" for my children's team and their kids. Three of my teenagers canceled on me two hours before the event. I knew I could either panic or let my faith take over. I chose faith. And God had it covered; I had plenty of other teenagers and adults for the night, and it turned out just fine. Children and teenagers were all snuggled in with blankets, pillows, and popcorn watching a Disney fan favorite.

This ministry mayhem moment is only a tiny example of what I'm really talking about here. As your ministry years go by, your faith-stretching moments will be big and small, short and long.

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