Standing Inside The Fire

In a few days I will have the pleasure of speaking at a Mother-Daughter Banquet. In my message I will be using a tea bag and a clear cup. I have written a blog on this before. As I was preparing God spoke once again to me on one aspect of this that I will be sharing with the ladies. 
Years ago I would only drink good old Lipton tea. When the new teas and the new flavorings came out my daughter would get me to try this flavor or that flavor. I would politely say, “No thanks honey. I’ll stick to my Lipton tea. Now years ago as a child Constant Comment came out. I remember it well it came in a metal can with an oval lid. My mom bought it and I was fascinated. She drank her first cup of flavored tea and loved it. She enticed me to try it and I soon found I enjoyed it. So, for years my tea consisted of either Constant Comment or Lipton tea. The Constant Comment seemed to be for special occasions or for really cold nights. 
It wasn’t until a few years ago after my daughter kept pestering me to get out of my confront zone and try something new that I did. I don’t even remember what the first flavor was. I just know I enjoyed the new taste of a new tea. I had just stepped outside of my comfort zone. Today as I look into my tea area I can’t begin to tell you how many flavored teas I have. I can’t even begin to name them all. I get up excited each morning for my cup of tea because I never know which one I am going to experience. I have always wanted one of those tea boxes you know the ones that hold the many different flavored teas that they bring to your table and you get to pick and choose. My husband found a box that works a little (still longing for a tea box….hoping one of my sons-in-law will make me one…hint hint), anyhow I place unmarked tea bags in it. Of a morning I get up and I can’t wait to get to the box. Since the tea is unmarked I never know what I am getting until I take that first sip. It is exciting and a joyful experience. I know many of you are saying, lady it’s time you get a life. But, it’s true. I do enjoy my morning cup of tea. This morning it was Butter Rum. 
So, what does all of this have to do with faith? Here it comes. For many years I was comfortable living as Garth Brooks would say outside the fire. I was comfortable with not doing anything outside of my comfort zone. I went to the same church for many, many years, then suddenly we moved and I had to go to a new church. I was challenged to go back to school and graduated the same year I turned 40. I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to Jamaica and Haiti on mission trips and then I went on my Walk to Emmaus alone; not knowing anyone. Those things were beyond my comfort zone. Later we moved to Texas not knowing anyone. I took on the job of being President for United Methodist Women in my local church which led to being on the District team and now the Conference team. I am a Client Adviser at a local food/clothing pantry. As I sit here I can’t begin to tell you all the things that I am doing (even if I did I might get in trouble with my kids; I am not sure they know all that mom does). I am certainly not bragging what I am doing is sharing with you all the exciting places and things God has led me to just because I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and into the fire. 
If I had stayed in my comfort zone and stayed out of the fire I would have missed out on some wonderful opportunities to see God working in other’s lives. I would have missed out on some great friendships. I would have missed out on God stretching, pulling and growing me. I have had to trust in Him, fully rely on Him, and depend on Him to help me do those things He has called me to do. But, you know what? It is exciting just like my cup of tea.
When I wake up of a morning I never know what God has in store for me. Do I fret? Do I worry about where I am being led or what He has planned for me? No instead I look forward to getting out of bed and waiting to see what He has in store for me. I will admit some days are harder than others, some days are more challenging and some days I wish I had stayed in bed, but I never regret living fully for Him each day. 
When we begin to step out of our comfort zone and do those things God is challenging us to do our lives take on new meaning. It is exciting to stand back and watch God move us in new directions. “Nehemiah’s story, which is recorded for us in the Old Testament, is one of the great epochs of Christian history. Not only is Nehemiah’s story a manual on leadership, organization, and how to accomplish goals, it shows us what God can do through a man whose heart is totally and completely His (taken from Crosswalk).”
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2
When we take our ordinary, everyday lives and give them to God great things begin to happen. God is good about giving us baby steps and moving us at a pace that is comfortable for us. He may call us just to walk across the street to a neighbor’s and offer a meal or invite them over for coffee or tea. It might be just offering to visit someone in the hospital, or the home-bound. I have found in my life God starts out slow and then builds with each new adventure. 
“You can go to God Most High to hide. You can go to God All-Powerful for protection. I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress. My God, I trust in you.” God will save you from hidden dangers and from deadly diseases. You can go to him for protection. He will cover you like a bird spreading its wings over its babies. You can trust him to surround and protect you like a shield. You will have nothing to fear at night and no need to be afraid of enemy arrows during the day. You will have no fear of diseases that come in the dark or terrible suffering that comes at noon. A thousand people may fall dead at your side or ten thousand right beside you, but nothing bad will happen to you! All you will have to do is watch, and you will see that the wicked are punished. You trust in the Lord for protection. You have made God Most High your place of safety. So nothing bad will happen to you. No diseases will come near your home. He will command his angels to protect you wherever you go. Their hands will catch you so that you will not hit your foot on a rock. You will have power to trample on lions and poisonous snakes. The Lord says, “If someone trusts me, I will save them. I will protect my followers who call to me for help. When my followers call to me, I will answer them. I will be with them when they are in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will give my followers a long life and show them my power to save.” Psalm 91
In my years of stepping out of my comfort zone I have never been anywhere where God was not present and had not prepared the way for me. You can rest be assured if God leads you to it He will go with you and prepare the way for us. 
This verse and chorus is found in Garth Brook’s song, Standing Outside the Fire.”
There’s this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly higher and higher
I can’t abide standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire
When you love God so much that it is burning deep in your soul you will want to fly higher and higher. That’s where I am now. I challenge you to find that love. Once you find that kind of love for God you will constantly yearn to get out of your comfort zone and fly higher with God. Don’t just survive but yearn to be used by God. Experience all that He has for you. Trust me when I say standing with God in the fire is better than standing alone outside the fire. Remember the three men in the fiery furnace? God was standing with them in the fire. 
My challenge for you is to step out in faith and step into the fire; step out of your comfort zone and step into all that God has in store for you. God will meet you there wherever there is. 
Dear God, It’s not been easy to step out of my comfort zone. It’s been hard and challenging. Each task you call me to is a little tougher, but you are always present and you always prepare my way. I have been so blessed by the places I’ve been to, the people I have been able to help and the friends I have made along the way. Oh what I would have missed if I had stayed outside the fire looking in. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future and together hand in hand we will walk it together standing inside the fire. Amen 

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