I have decided a few things. Following Christ is not an easy walk. Following Christ on this journey comes with challenges, twists, and turns. Just about the time you think things are going smooth and you are getting the hang of it God comes in and stirs the pot and challenges you to move forward on your journey. I have come to realize God does not allow you to rest any too long at any one point in your life.
I have looked back over my years and I have noticed that just about the time I am okay with what God has chosen for me to do he steps forward and challenges me to step out of my comfort zone again and move forward.
Years ago I was challenged to start a Wednesday night prayer service. God gave me complete details except for who was to bring the short devotion that he wanted for the evening. It was to be a time of praise music, prayer, and a short devotion. I was given all the details. I knew who was to lead music and who would be praying. The short devotion he did not name. After realizing this I asked for wisdom on who was best qualified to do this. I didn’t like the answer. I was to give the devotion. Each week I would prepare a short devotion and share it with a handful of people.
As I look back I see how he was preparing me for my future. Several years later in Texas, I was given the opportunity to be on the District team for our United Methodist Women’s group. I was to hold the office of Spiritual Growth. With that came the responsibility of leading a short devotion each time we held a District event or a District meeting. The audience for these meetings were a little larger than the Wednesday night group. Another step forward.
With each speaking engagement, I have committed to the audience seems to get a little bigger and more intimidating. Now I have been asked to step out in faith and do an even bigger event. This one will be just as intimidating and challenging, if not more so, than all the others. I was comfortable with what I was doing, but God decided it was time to get me out of my comfort zone and move me forward once more.
I am realizing how comfortable we can get in our faith. It reminds me of buying a new pair of everyday shoes. We buy a pair of shoes and they are a bit tight and a little uncomfortable. Just about the time we break them in and they fit just like we like them we realize they are worn out, used up or broken in and we need a new pair.
Sometimes we get comfortable with the jobs God gives us. We are settled in. We like what we do…it’s a nice fit. We breathe in and settle down in that job. We get comfortable. Unfortunately, we don’t grow in a relationship with God when it is comfortable. We grow and learn to rely on or trust him more when there are challenges, difficulties or trials we are growing through. When our backs are up against the wall that is often when we reach out to God. It is during those times we grow, our faith strengthens and we learn yet again to depend on Him.
My favorite verse is this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (JEREMIAH 29:11) While he may know the plans he has for each of us the secret is not sharing those plans with us until it is necessary. If we knew ahead of time the plans he has for each of us it would be scary enough to knock our socks off. While he does not share his plans for our lives what he does do is coordinate events in our lives that will work out according to his will.
He also spends time equipping us for the jobs he has for us. It has been said, “God does not call the equipped. God equips the called.” “Instead, God chose things that the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame how who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-28
God is a good God. He always gives us a choice. When he calls us out of our comfort zone he always gives us a choice. We can choose to be obedient or we can choose to run away as fast as we can in the other direction. I often think of Jonah. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah had a choice to make. He could choose to follow God and get up immediately and go to Nineveh or he could choose to be disobedient. Jonah got up and moved in the opposite direction God called him to.
When God calls us to move forward we have choices to make ourselves. We can choose to be obedient or we can choose to run away. When contemplating about this task God had called me to do someone said, “I don’t want to pressure you to do it. It’s your decision.” I replied back, “Thank you, but it’s not about whether I want to do it. It’s about whether God wants me to do it and me being obedient to his calling.” I don’t have to buy a new pair of shoes. I can wear the old ones, but one day the old ones will be worn out and I will have to buy a new pair. We can stay where we are and never move forward in our relationship with God. It will become stale and stagnant. We will have a choice to make stay put or move forward.
If you look back on your life can you see where God has been slowly moving you forward in your walk with him? Can you see him preparing you or equipping you to do those things he has called you to do?
As I look back I have seen the progress I have made. I have seen each time he has called me to step forward. I have seen those times he has allowed me to rest right where I was. And yes, I have seen those times I have slipped backward. Those times were not God’s doing, but mine when I was disobedient and ran away just like Jonah.
Just like Esther said in her book, “Maybe I’ve been called for just a time as this.” So, the question now becomes do I take the next step forward in my relationship with God and do what he has called me to do or do I keep my comfortable shoes on and stay right where I am at? Do I follow Jonah and run in the opposite direction?
I know the answer. I know what I must do. Now it’s about being obedient. What shall I choose?
Dear God: It would be nice if you brought us so far and then just left us to be comfortable. It would be nice to sit in our easy chair and soak up the comfort, but being comfortable is not what you’ve called us to do. You’ve called us to step up and move out. You want us to move forward and not be stale or stagnant. You want us to have a dynamic relationship with you. We know that only happens when we rely on you, are challenged, or are going through difficult times. You’ve given us both Esther and Jonah as examples; one was obedient the other wasn’t. We can choose to be Esther or we can be a Jonah. Help me to be an Esther for such a time as this. Amen