Sunday, March 11, 2007

Living Outside our Comfort Zone

God, the Holy Spirit often challenges me to move out of my comfort zone to reach out to others. My comfort zone is a non-threatening environment where I feel adequate and at ease psychologically and emotionally.

I remember an early call to move out of my comfort zone to become involved with my neighbors. We had recently moved to Winnipeg, and I was a full-time homemaker. Concerned about the salvation of my neighbors, one morning I prayed by name, for the two women I had already met.

About an hour after my prayer, the phone rang. Two weeks earlier, at Christian Women’s Club, I signed up to attend a Bible study in my neighborhood. The lady who called informed me that there was not a Bible study group operating in my neighborhood at the time. She suggested that I invite my neighbors to my home and she would send someone to lead the study. I knew the Lord was answering my prayer. He was calling me out of my comfort zone to invite my neighbors to my house for Bible study.

The neighbors came to the Bible study and long after I moved from the neighborhood the Bible study continued to function and minister to the women of that neighborhood.

As writers, God constantly calls us out of our comfort zone. We become comfortable with the competing ideas that crowd in upon each other in our heads like rush hour traffic. Sometimes they crash into each other and at other times, they move in orderly lanes taking us at breath-taking speed to new places in our thinking. Our call is to risk communicating these ideas in print, so the Holy Spirit can use them to challenge, to comfort or to move others on, in their life journeys.

What happens when we move out of our comfort zones, in practical ways like inviting our neighbours to explore faith with us, or in putting our words on paper or standing before others to tell of our own faith journey? What we do is an act of faith that demonstrates our confidence in the Lord and His power.

In leaving our comfort zone, we follow the example of Abraham, the epitome of faith according to Hebrews 11. He went out from his homeland in obedience to the prompting of God’s Spirit, although he did not know where he was going. His faith was in the one who proved faithful to Him, over the course of his life; although I am certain at times, he wished he could return to the comfort zone of his own country and people.

It is possible for us to do many things, even to take significant risks in reliance upon our own resources and abilities. We are capable of doing great things. We can build the church. We can write award winning books and articles. However, only those things that we do outside of the comfort zone of our own abilities, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit will have eternal consequences.

I used to think the Lord called us out of our comfort zones to attempt things for him so that in those situations we would learn to rely upon His grace. He has never failed to come through when I trusted Him. My experiences have led me to believe the most satisfactory life is one we choose to live outside our comfort zones. To live in Him is to live within the comfort zone of His love and grace, wherever we are and to find our security there. That means trusting Him to use our lives and our writing for His purposes. Then the glory goes to Him and not to us, but great joy and satisfaction are ours.

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