Monday, October 25, 2010

The Comfort Zone

Barak said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." "Very well," Deborah said, "I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman." So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:8-9 NIV)

Let me be real with you. Speaking in front of a crowd used to make me physically ill. Pass the barf bag nauseous. I can remember agonizing over giving book reports in grade school. I lost sleep thinking about it. I’d have rather done anything else…anything else that didn’t involve water. I never learned how to swim. I grew up in the tri-lake area and never learned to swim. My dad spent 20 years in the US Navy, sailing around the world, but I never learned how to swim. Water more than knee-deep ties my intestines in knots.

I became an atheist when I was a junior in high-school, right around age 16. I remember reading several books about mythology and finally coming to the brilliant conclusion that the so-called “Holy Bible” was just a collection of interesting myths that gullible people accepted as truth. So basically I was a shy, water-fearing atheist.

Why in all of creation would God choose me to be a preacher and pastor? How could he look over all the qualified candidates then rest his eyes on me and say, “You’re it.” He could have chosen a bold speaker, a brave swimmer and someone who grew up well grounded in Christian faith. However, he chose me.

You want to talk about getting out of your comfort zone? Speaking in front of a group of people on average three times a week? Stepping into a baptistery of waste-deep water to dunk somebody under it and hope you don’t go under too and drown? Searching out truths with a mind filled with skepticism and unbelief? God took me light years out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Have you ever noticed how God calls people out of their comfort zones? I can think of many: Moses, Abraham, David, Elijah, Daniel, Isaiah, the 12 Disciples, Paul and many others. Each has an amazing story, playing a role in God’s epic. However, I wanted to look briefly at Barak.

God called Barak out of his comfort zone. He reached out to him through the prophetess Deborah. Barak could have gone down in history as one of the great military leaders of Israel, getting credit for crushing one of the wicked enemies of his people. In order to do this he had to move out of his comfort zone. He just wasn’t ready. He was unable to take that big leap on his own. He wanted Deborah to go with him because he just wasn’t sure about it.

I can relate to Barak. He’s my kind of guy. I can feel his tremendous discomfort at God’s call on his life. I can feel the knots he must have had in his gut. I can imagine how dry his mouth must have been and how hard his heart must have beaten when Deborah said, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' " (Judges 4:6b-7 NIV).

Barak was thinking of those 900 chariots Sisera had at his command, and the 20 years of cruel oppression he had enforced, all mentioned back in Judges 4:3. He was being called way out of his comfort zone. He just could not bring himself to go there, and because of that, he sacrificed honor and blessing.

As you sit back and read this today think about this question: How is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone? What is the Lord Jesus Christ asking you to do that makes you want to go hide in a dark corner somewhere and hope he cannot find you? Even more importantly, what blessing and honor are you missing because you are not willing to step out of your comfort zone? It may simply be that you are so comfortable where you are at that you are not willing to turn your life over to him at all. Will you step out of your comfort zone today?

I’ll be real in closing. I still get nervous in front of groups, but the Holy Spirit carries me through. I still am worried that I am going to drown while baptizing somebody, but the Holy Spirit inspires me to step into that water. I have embraced faith, because I have seen the power of the Lord Jesus Christ at work. Either he is real, or I am crazy, or more than likely, he is real and I am crazy. Step out of the comfort zone and into the crazy zone with me.

Randy Alan

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