Comfort. This single word can bring a variety of images to mind: a cozy blanket, a favorite pair of pajamas, a comfy seat on a couch, or even a life free from conflict or pain. Up until five years ago when I was a student on The Experience, my concept of comfort matched those images above. I valued a life free from challenge and sought the status quo as a means of obtaining it. This had become my worldview, and I was content. My comfort zone was safe and so was I—as long as I stayed within it.
As I found my seat for one of our many classes during The Experience, little did I know that God was about to radically reshape my view of “comfort.” Caleb Bislow, a Forge Speaker, began to share his burden for the dark, dangerous, and despised places of the world. As he shared, he casually said a phrase that has continued to echo in my heart for five years now: “the most dangerous place he or anyone else could ever be is sitting on the couch.”
At first, I thought his comment sounded silly coming from a man who had journeyed around the globe to some of the most dangerous locations on the planet. How could comfort be more dangerous in his life than sharing the gospel with unreached people groups? However, as God began to work in my heart, the depth and truth of what he shared began to sink in. Comfort was dangerous to him because he looked at life with an eternal perspective. Comfort was dangerous to him because of what it could cost … both him and others.
While I figured I would never experience the same dangerous locations and situations that he had, I began to realize that I didn’t have to. There were numerous everyday ways that God was calling me beyond my comfort zone that were unique to me. Sharing the gospel with a stranger, speaking in front of a group of my peers, letting go of the routines I cherished to make space for others—all were ways that God had challenged me just that week to sacrifice the good of what was comfortable for the best of what was glorifying to Him.
As the existence of my own “dangerous” situations began to sink in, the reality of how often I let my comfort zone determine how far I am willing to go to love others did as well. God began revealing to me that my comfort zone, and not His leading, was the deciding factor in my obedience to Him and love toward others. Much like Jonah’s heart broke more for the loss of the plant that had shaded him from the sun than for the salvation of the Ninevites (Jonah 4), God lovingly showed me that by choosing to remain within my comfort zone in those moments that my heart was focused on lesser things.
As students press into what God is doing during these coming weeks, their comfort zones will be stretched. Just as my teammates and I were challenged those five summers ago, the students this summer will be given many opportunities to get off their comfort couches and trust God as they love and serve those beyond themselves. While laying down our manageable routines and preferences for the good of another often stretches us beyond the boundaries of what we find safe or comfortable, it is worth it. Not only does it allow us to love others well, it also provides the opportunity to see God work in ways we may never have experienced otherwise. When we choose to step out in faith beyond our comfort zones, we begin to see the reality of what existed all along—that God’s power, might, and love extend far beyond the barriers of what we thought was possible. In those moments, we, like the prophet Jeremiah can rejoice in the truth that, “You (God) have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:17).
Where’s the most dangerous place you find yourself these days?
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