Have you ever experienced a situation that was so far out of your comfort zone that you thought perhaps you were crazy? In addition, was this experience by choice? Had you been advised by someone you respect to move forward, take the next step, be bold?
I remember, years ago, getting my SCUBA diving certification. The certification allowed me to go diving in the open water and I really enjoyed it. I remember one experience where we decided to go night diving. Yep, you heard me, night diving. Night diving in the open ocean is one of those experiences that you say, “why?” Imagine being in a perfectly safe boat out in the ocean when you throw the anchor and decide to jump in the water and dive in the pitch dark to the bottom. Yep, that’s night diving. Some of you may have similar experiences. We have all had an experience where someone influenced us to do something we would never have done without their encouragement.
God is that way, sometimes. God asks us to do something that is outside of our comfort zone. Our initial response is usually, “no way!” Think about the stories in the Bible where God came and spoke to a random person and gave them a mission that was so outside of their capacity or comfort that it was obvious, they would be unsuccessful without Him. I quickly think of Noah, Moses, Daniel, Esther, Job, Peter, Paul, Mary (had to put in that sequence) and the list goes on. However, in every one of those situations, amidst the fear, anxiety, lack of resources and the unknown, they responded with obedience. I have observed a few principals that have helped me understand how one’s faith, as small as it is, can make all the difference in such situations.
Out of our comfort zone
One principal I have observed is that it is in God’s character to ask me to do something that would not naturally come to me. I believe the two primary benefits from such a request is my personal growth as well as God getting the credit. Imagine never doing anything that was uncomfortable. Reflect on your life and see the growth you experienced because of the uncomfortable experience that God allowed or ushered you into. Perhaps you are still growing through it.
I also know that it’s important to give God the glory of the outcome. My wife (Lisa) and I lost a business early on in our career. The experience was painful, disappointing and embarrassing. However, we are stronger now because of this experience. I recently spoke to a friend who was a cancer survivor, same thing. I have met, as you have, many who have been placed outside of their comfort zone and today will tell you that it was the best thing that ever happened to them, though they would not want to repeat it.
I have also observed that my faith grows every time I obey the God nudge. I equate it to a dividend. I regret that I had not listened to the advice of older people in my life when I was encouraged to start saving $50 (or some amount) per month as soon as I had a consistent job. Twenty years of saving $50 per month will give you about $25,000, which does not seem significant, but it’s money you would not have had. Twenty years of obeying God pays faith dividends, making it easier to hear His voice and obey His voice in the future. God demonstrates His trustworthiness over that period of time. Why did Abraham so quickly obey God when He was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac? Simply put, he had a front row seat of God always fulfilling His promises and always providing and protecting him. Therefore, Abraham knew God would find a way.
A final thought. Here is the scenario. God whispers in our ear that He has something He wants us to do (that feeling you get) and you initially say that you can’t (you place your hands over your ears and yell really, really loudly). You eventually relent and agree to take the next step, our “decision point.” We then proceed to take another step and the next one and the next one and so forth. Each step is one step of obedience but also is one step deeper into you discomfort. We often will get to a “turning point,” the place that we can turn around and run back to our comfort zone or keep going to the point of no return. The “turning point” is our most vulnerable right after our “decision point.” I have noticed that it’s at that point that we feel the most lonely, isolated, afraid and at risk. However, what we fail to see is that we are not lonely, isolated or vulnerable because God, our Father, is present and in fact the closest He can be, even when we can’t see or feel Him. Faith is knowing He is present.
He is present
In closing, let me tell you a quick story (and please see the metaphor). I was officiating a wedding recently and my two grandsons were acting as the ring bearers. One grandson was excited about the opportunity, the other petrified. Their father, my son-in-law, was there at the beginning of the isle getting them ready, giving them the pep talk and making sure the rings did not get lost. The music started, everyone was moving into their place and it was now time for the two ringbearers to make their entrance. One soaking it all in and the other about to soak himself. Their father decided to walk down the outer isle, unseen, in sync with his two boys, assuring them that they would not be alone. The one son understood this and successfully delivered the ring. The other son got to about the half way mark, looked around at his unfamiliar setting and decided to pivot and hi tale it back to his place of familiarity. Interestingly so, both sons were told their father would be close by and yet both understood that to mean something differently. I get it. I have done both and probably will do both. However, I am reminded that the Father will ask me to do something that is uncomfortable and may petrify me; however, He is present and the obedience will always provide me with growth and no regrets.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Read more articles by Stephan Tchividjian at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/stephan-tchividjian/