Comfort zones – we all have them. Some people’s comfort zones may be larger than others, but they are still there. Some people have comfort zones that are large in some areas and small in others. (By using the term “comfort zones,” I am really talking about the way we live and the important decisions we make – our lifestyles. Please note that I am not encouraging you to go do something like eat goat brains and litchis just because those are outside your comfort zone when it comes to food.)
In everything we do, we like to try to stay within our comfort zones. Why? Because the comfort zone is familiar and because it is familiar, we deem it “safe.” We could just call them “safety zones.” Often, we move outside our comfort zones, we feel out of control because, well, we are. Our comfort zones generally consist of that which we feel we can control. Granted, we never have as much control as we think we have; nevertheless, it is our reason for craving the familiar. We love to feel in control because it gives us a feeling of power and significance. After all, who really likes to feel bewildered and powerless? Maybe it doesn’t apply to you, but everything I have just said is most certainly true of me.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it is a human way of thinking; it isn’t godly. To think this way isn’t to think as God thinks. God deeply desires each one of us to step out into the unknown with Him, trusting that He’s got our best interests at heart (check out one of my most recent blogs, “Sweet Surrender,” for more about this subject: http://www.journey247.com/2013/08/25/sweet-surrender/). However, we are often so busy trying to remain where we are comfortable and “safe” that we miss the opportunity to walk in the true fullness of what God has for each one of us and to fall more in love with Him.
Moses is a great example of missing an opportunity. In Exodus 4, he missed out on the opportunity to step into everything God had for him. First, he worried about what would happen if he went and declared God’s words to his fellow Israelites and nobody believed him (v. 1). God gave him three completely different, completely amazing miracles that would prove that He was the One behind Moses’ words (v. 2-9). “O Lord, I have never been eloquent….I am slow of speech and tongue” (v. 10). After giving Moses a brusque reminder of Who it was that gave man the power of speech, God told Moses, ‘”….Now go. I will help you speak and teach you what to say”‘ (v.12). But that wasn’t enough for Moses; he was still concerned with what he thought he would lack when he stepped into the unfamiliar, so he didn’t want to do it: “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (v.13). The NIV translation ends that sentence with a period, but I always imagined it having an exclamation mark and being said with a tone of desperate pleading. At least, that is how I would have said it: “Don’t make me do it, Lord!” It goes on to say that the Lord was angry and that He gave Aaron the task of speaking His powerful words. Moses still got to play a role in what God was doing, but his role was diminished – that is, not all that it could have been and not even all that God desired it to be.
Now, please understand that I am not saying God did not use Moses greatly; God gave Moses many more opportunities to do great things for Him, and Moses chose to do many of them. However, I am saying that I think Moses missed out when he did not allow God to use him; he missed out on an opportunity to see God display His awesome power in his life. I have always wondered how the story might have gone had Moses taken God up on His promise and risen fully to the task.
Just like Moses, we often miss opportunities to let God work through us fully when we choose to live within the safe boundaries of our comfort zones. While missing out on that opportunity certainly breaks God’s heart, you may be wondering why exactly living solely in one’s comfort zones is, in a way, ungodly. I will explain that now. When we cling to our comfortable lifestyle, we are making the familiar – the safe, the comfortable – our idol, and that is wholly ungodly. (Check out Exodus 20:3 and spend some time contemplating its true meaning – it will help you get your priorities straight, which can be very life-changing.) Additionally, when we live in our self-created comfort zones, we are putting no real faith or trust in God, which is not at all what God wants for us. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so that we could live safe and comfortable lives; He came that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), lives “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). And here’s some more good news: though we have missed opportunities in the past, even yesterday, we will be offered new opportunities. God’s awesome power is there for the taking. The question is, will you use it, allowing Him to work in you and through you, trusting that He’ll take you all the way? Jesus didn’t come to allow us to remain as we were, hiding out in our comfort zones. And actually, He didn’t even come to help us live outside our comfort zones; He came to radically change our heart and totally destroy our “comfort zones” so that we can live lives that are powerful, effective, and beautifully free.