Originally Posted on Joy Comes in the Morning
My bed is so comfortable. A few years ago my husband and I invested in a memory-foam mattress that conforms to my body and I love it. Combined with a nice warm down quilt and my snuggly pillow, it becomes the worst kind of temptation to stay in bed much longer than I should.
Most Americans live a fairly comfortable life. We have air-conditioned homes and cars, phones that keep us connected to information at all times and every other modern convenience at our fingertips. We don’t have to hunt for our dinner or scrub our laundry on rocks.
But for those of us that are followers of Christ, have we become too comfortable? Are we too comfort-obsessed to be of much use to the Kingdom of God?
There are no promises in the Word that Christians would live a comfortable life—in fact the opposite it true. We are promised trials, tribulations and persecution. And yet, we fuss if the worship music is not to our standards, church-shop if the pastor or the congregation doesn’t “meet our needs”, and breeze through the week with our noses in our iPhones instead of the Word.
We shake our heads sadly at the atrocities happening in Iraq, the bombs being indiscriminately fired into Israel, or the misery of the poor in our own country, while inwardly rejoicing that it is not us in their shoes. We celebrate the Word being spread by missionaries in foreign lands while ignoring our own hurting neighbors.
Shedding our comfort zones is frightening, it takes courage that we cannot attain without the Spirit of God holding our hand. It takes reliance on God’s Word to release our expectations for our lives while we shimmy out onto the wobbly branches of trust in his will.
Do we want to see the Spirit move in our lives and within the church? Do we want to see the hand of God performing miracles? Then we must let go of our demand for comfort.
Thinking back to Ancient Israel, whose experiences and choices are a mirror image of us in this modern age, when did miracles occur?
The Hebrews were protected from six of the plagues in Egypt, but only after enduring the first three along with the Egyptians.
They were rescued from the last plague, or rather the final judgment of the Death of the Firstborns, but only after slaughtering a sweet little innocent lamb that had lived in their homes for four days.
The Red Sea parted. Yes. But only when their backs were against the water and Pharaoh was breathing down their necks.
Water sprang from a crack in the rock created by Moses’ staff, but only after they endured such thirst that they were nearly willing to go back into slavery in Egypt. Manna appeared on the ground each morning to satisfy their rumbling stomachs, but only after they were so hungry they nearly starved to death and were ready to rebel against Moses.
It’s in times of greatest need in my life that I have seen the hand of God most clearly and times when I could do nothing but fall on my face and weep that I heard the voice of my Savior the loudest.
If we are honest with ourselves when we are firmly in our comfort zone, satisfied with our cushy lives, our spiritual growth stagnates or worse, backslides.
So what can we do? Sell our homes and belongings and memory-foam mattresses and hop a plane for Iraq? Not unless that is what God is directing us to do.
Maybe, for those of us that are introverts (myself included), its squelching the butterflies in our stomachs to talk to someone we don’t know, to ask how we can serve them or pray for them. What if that one interaction keeps that person from going home to kill themselves, and instead they are brought into the Kingdom?
Maybe it’s putting aside our fears for the future and financial security to work in a ministry capacity. Or sacrificing materially to do far and above our normal giving to support orphans and widows. Or meeting together with others who profess faith in the One True God without the artificial boundaries of denominations.
One of my favorite New Testament stories is when Peter asks Jesus to let him walk on the water. Of course he sank for a bit because he took his eyes off Christ, but Jesus didn’t let him drown. He reached out his hand and saved his friend. Yet, if Peter hadn’t stepped out of that boat, he would never have walked on water and experienced the depth of Jesus’ love for him.
In the past year I have stepped outside my own comfort zone to obey God’s leading in a number of areas and have seen nothing but rewards from doing so. Putting blog posts out there on the internet scares me to death. Submitting my blood-sweat-tear-stained novel to agents and editors was terrifying. But I can tell you with confidence that obedience to God’s leading always brings blessings, in one form or another.
Even so, the Lord continues to point out a few places in my life in which I still obstinately cling to my comfort zone and I know he will keep stretching me in coming days, tearing down my silly fear-built walls and pushing me out into deeper waters.
Life away from my memory-foam mattress may not be as comfortable, but without waking up, putting my feet on the firm ground of God’s will and walking forward, I won’t ever experience all the depth and richness of the abundant life in Christ. I don’t know what discomfort looks like for you, but I know that I don’t want to miss out on the blessings of discomfort in my own life. I want to see miracles, how about you?
When was a time you stepped out in faith to do something that frightened you? What rewards did that obedience bring? Do you see any areas in your life where God is telling you to step out of the boat?