Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Uncomfortably Comfortable

I'm always amazed at how each passing year suddenly becomes the most challenging one yet.  In 2011, for example, I was convinced that my life's lessons on love, forgiveness, and faith couldn't possibly get any harder, but when the calendar pages turned to 2012, I was faced with new emotional hurdles that surpassed every preceding year's trials and tribulations. As I ran along my life's course the last two years, I didn't see certain things coming in either year, yet always knew somewhere in my heart that they eventually would.  Our past has a way of catching up with our present if we don't successfully deal with it at the time, and mine didn't just catch up with me momentarily.  It planted itself right beside my present, masked itself as my future, and generally messed with my head, which created an unprecedented spiritual and emotional turmoil.  Though 2013 has brought equally formidable challenges thus far, they are fortunately in different departments, but the one consistency has been the uncomfortable comfortableness of my own fears, insecurities, and weaknesses.

  Have you ever been so afraid of something that you allowed it to actually direct your steps each day? I'm reminded of Jack Nicholson in the 1997 film As Good as It Gets when his steps were literally guided by the cracks in a sidewalk.  To feed his obsessive compulsive propensities, he walked only on the portion of concrete that contained no cracks, and I wonder how many of us do the same thing, but in different ways?  What cracks are you avoiding stepping on and if you knew you could change things, would you actually change them? I remember a couple of years ago, I was caught up in a dangerous array of what if's and though I experienced immense discomfort at every contemplation, I often found myself strangely comfortable in the midst of the very distress that brought me to my knees in daily prayer.  What was that?  It was the battle of flesh against spirit.  Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 26:41 to "watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," and on more than one occasion my spirit lost to my flesh.  Why?  Because although I prayed daily, my prayers weren't prayed sincerely every day. Some days I was desperate for a breakthrough, but others days a breakthrough was the last thing I truly wanted because I was uncomfortably comfortable in my sin, weakness, and fear.    

We often say we want not to do something, but then proceed to do the very thing we say we don't want to do.  Paul said it like this in Romans 7:15: "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." (NLT). If you've ever struggled with addiction of any kind, then you can easily relate.  Ever try to stop smoking?  You know it's terrible for your health and you desperately want to quit so that you can be around to see your grandchildren, but five minutes after professing your dedication to quit, you light up again.  Sound familiar to anyone? I fought those demons off and on for years before I finally quit and it was the same situation. I was desperate to stop, but not until my whole heart was in it and I fully surrendered it to God above did I finally quit for good.  Don't get so comfortable in your own sins, fears, and problems that you start denying the discomfort that is invariably there.  We weren't designed to stay in sin, we've been bought back from sin (1 Corinthians 6:20) to live free from it.  Pray for God to cause you such strong discomfort over your sin so that when the battle rages between your spirit and flesh, your spirit wins.  

In other situations, we refrain from becoming all that God has for us to become because we've become complacent and uncomfortably comfortable in laziness or fear or both, but Proverbs 10:4 warns us that "lazy hands make for poverty" and countless places throughout Scripture command us to "fear not," because God is with us.  (Isaiah 41:10).  I started working on my doctorate degree in clinical psychology recently and in just the first week of class I decided I would be more comfortable if I quit, nestled back down into my laziness, and accommodated my fears of failure and feelings of inadequacy because to rise above them was more terrifying as I listened to my instructors discuss things like advanced statistics, research design, and intervention methodology. More than once I questioned whether or not I was qualified to be there, but then I remembered one of my favorite sayings - God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called! Life has been an emotional roller coaster as I learn how to balance everything, but remaining uncomfortably comfortable in laziness and fear simply wasn't an option, and it shouldn't be for you either.  Whatever God has called you to do - get out and start doing it even if you have to start small. Go back to school, apply for the job you don't feel you deserve, write a book, take an online course, move to that new city, apply for the sports scholarship, and above all these things pray like you've never prayed before! Pray for God's wisdom and guidance because He promises this in James 1:5: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

I often hear people say they're never going to change because "it's just the way I am," but here's a newsflash - we're all changing every single day whether we like it or not and we'll continue to change until we leave this life.  Five years from now, I assure you that you will have changed.  By tomorrow, you will have changed.  By tonight, you will have changed.  Even if the changes are internal and invisible to you now, your health is changing, your heart rate changes, your age changes. Your hair changes from day to day, your mood changes, sometimes with the hour, and your weight changes.  We are always changing.  We don't live a stationary existence and we don't serve a God who will allow us to stay the same.  Only He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6), but we are forever changing, growing, adapting, learning, sometimes regressing, but hopefully maturing.  Don't stay uncomfortably comfortable in your sins or fears or weaknesses.  Allow God into the middle of them to change them.  The enemy has a plan for your life and it involves the illusion that you can never change, but fortunately God has a plan too, and according to Jeremiah 29:11, it's good. Don't be afraid of change, embrace it. Get out of your uncomfortably comfortable situation, whatever it may be for you, and get comfortable in Christ and His plan for your life. I've included the song that resonated most strongly with me over the last few weeks.  Enjoy!

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