I had the amazing opportunity to visit a friend in Austria, and while I was there, we made authentic, homemade apple strudel. She started with a ball of dough, rolling it out on the floured kitchen table, and then putting the rolling pin aside, began and drag her fingers underneath the flattened dough, stretching it from the center to the edge, each stroke widening the breadth of the pastry, and simultaneously creating a thinner and thinner dough. Just when I though it couldn't be expanded any more, she taught me that the true test to gauge if it was finished was to put a newspaper underneath to see if the text could be read. Only then was it ready for the delicious apple filling.
Together we stretched the dough, until it covered the entire table. It didn't break or rip in her skilled hands, and it was such a delicious-smelling wait as we listened for the oven timer to ring out that our treat was ready.
In this season of preparing to return to South Africa, this picture has returned to my mind many times. I've been stretched in my faith, in my trust in the Lord and in His provision, in areas of my heart and spirit, in my emotional life, financial life, and relational life. I have been the dough, being stretched and stretched until I think I can endure no more. And yet, the skilled hands of the One who loves me dearly-those hands that hold my every breath and bear my true name in their palms-move me and shape me into His design. He prepares me for my purpose, and in doing so, gives me wider influence and more capacity to hold all He will pour out in my life to accomplish His will.
I am being stretched, but I will not break. I am being stretched, but it is for my good. I am being stretched, but it's for His Glory. Holy Spirit, continue to hold and guide me in the stretch.