Some Thoughts on Comfort

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When is it okay to be comfortable?

“It’s important to me that I don’t get so safe and comfortable in my life that I forget that the majority of the world doesn’t live that way. Being careful not to love my surroundings or things too much just keeps me ready to move.” 

This was written by Mary Allison, who at the age of 59 just left the States and moved to Santiago, Chile, where she and her husband now lead the church.  When they took the challenge to move there, she didn’t even speak Spanish!

So there is a “bad” kind of comfort.  The kind that keeps us from answering God’s call to action.

And then there is a good kind of comfort, the kind that involves freedom from guilt!  What is freedom?  I spent some time this past week talking with a friend who is Chinese about what freedom means to Americans.  Freedom is something we hold as one of our most sacred values.  To Americans, freedom means being free from the control of others, specifically in our revolution, from despotic rulers.

But we can be free of the control of others, and still not really free.  There are other things we are controlled by.  I have spent much of my Christian life controlled by guilt, a need to achieve, a performance mentality.  It has been a wonderful growth in my life to not be motivated by these things, but instead, by the right things.  This truly is the best time of my life, a time when I am not twisted with the feeling that I should be doing more, when I don’t have the looming presence of “should” like a dark cloud over me all the time.

“If you serve to get free of your fear, you are doomed to failure.” 

Henry Cloud wrote this in his book that has become a Christian classic:  “Boundaries.”  Cloud goes on to say, “The point is this: we were called into freedom, and this freedom results in gratitude, an overflowing heart, and love for others.  To give bountifully has great reward.”

As I was been doing soul searching regarding the possibility of taking a job, I realized what was at the heart of my uneasiness.  I saw that I can use the busyness of a job, or any pursuit, as a way to hide from doing what is most important to me to do.  It is much more comfortable to stay occupied with the activity that is readily available than to push myself into sharing my faith, having new friends over,  spending time with someone who is struggling, etc.

THAT is what I want to avoid.  It isn’t that I don’t want a job, but I don’t want the allow the job to keep me distracted from what I’ve decided is really important.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48)  I was reading the paper yesterday about a married couple who has just given the largest gift ever, $40,000,000, to Auburn’s School of Business.  They said they did it because of the principle of this verse.

God has given me sooooo much, and I do want to give back.  I want to be poured out like wine upon the altar.  I want to get out of the boat of comfort for him and walk on the water of faith.

But I want to do all of these things from a place of comfort with God.  I want to get uncomfortable because my comfort, my peace and security, is in Him.  My freedom is in Him. I want to take comfort in all of the goodness that is God — His single-minded sacrificial love for me,  His providence, His beauty, His plan for me, His belief in me.  I want to bask in the warm blanket of grace that surrounds me.

His peace is as vast as the ocean at dawn

His goodness is as abundant as trees laden with sweet fruit

His sovereignty is like a the course of a stream

Mary Allison shunned her personal comfort, and at an age close to retirement, moved across the world to serve.  Yet I would say that she is happy in this move, not struggling with it.  She considers it a great blessing.

May we all be willing to do this, stepping out of our comfort zone from a place of strength, living out with joy the definition of who we are as disciples on the Disciples Today web site:  “We are on a journey to that future life exploring the incredible plans God has for us on earth to love Him and to love others.”

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