Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
by Sally Larkin Green
… There are times in each of our lives when God will call us out to do something unusual, to do something that makes us feel uncomfortable in order to make his kingdom great. You don’t have to preach sermons, or become involved in a church, all you need is a heart for God and a willingness to take action…
Jesus lives! We can still see signs all around us, if we look closely that show us that Jesus still lives today in the hearts of those who seek him. But we still struggle.
So I’m inclined to ask … If following Jesus does not exempt us from struggles and brokenness… Then why should we follow him? Why pray or go to church? What’s in it for us? The struggles we each face can be challenging and scary. And Following Jesus gives us a pathway to peace. He shows us the way to find Gods loving embrace. He takes away our fears and replaces it with determination and renewed strength. Our problems don’t go away when we follow Jesus, but the way we tackle them changes. Our attitude towards our problems change when we know we are not fighting them alone.
On this life journey, it’s the proclaiming our faith and the expressing our doubts, the questioning and the searching for answers, the falling and the getting up, the yanking and the pushing… it’s life pulling us in all directions, it’s the chasing and the crying and the celebrating that we do together, that leads us to discover the spirit of God in each of us. By following Jesus it fills our spirit with the love of God and brings us comfort knowing we are never alone. God is always with us.
Some of you endure the pain of life on a daily basis.
A lost marriage.
A broken home.
Death and separation
Sickness and pain.
Children facing difficulties and challenges.
No strong person I know got that way from walking away from their doubts and fears. It’s by tackling problems, by questioning, by searching for answers that we become stronger and more resilient.
Psalm 34: 18-19 says .. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.
Brokenness connects us to God. Think of the word BROKEN! When we’re financially strapped, we say we’re broke, when we lose someone or something we love we’re brokenhearted. When we were dating someone and they make us mad we break up with them. When we get together for meals we say we are “breaking bread together”, when we’re an emotional mess we have a break down. But it’s the broken ground that we plant seeds in to produce life,its broken clouds that bring rain, rain that yields flowers and food.
You know, it’s striking at how much the weather is a metaphor for our lives. This year especially we have realized that our never ending winter has finally moved into spring. We knew it would. That rain brings fruits and trees and rainbows. That storms destroy things that can be rebuilt even better and more resilient than before. Our lives are spent being broken and being renewed. Being cast aside and being lifted up. Being rained on and feeling lousy about it and then blossoming into a beautiful flower. We face storms, we struggle, we deal with the loss of loved ones. But it’s the harsh winters make spring much more appreciated. It’s in dealing with death, as we all do at times, that makes us appreciate life even more. Without storms we wouldn’t appreciate calm. Without death we wouldn’t appreciate life. God has a purpose for us ~ to live our life, to face challenges knowing that spring is coming and that whatever is broken or knocked down by the gusts of wind can be rebuilt and renewed – Are you hungry for God’s love? Are you passionate about learning more and removing those fears and doubts? Are you ready to discover the confidence that comes from tackling your problems with Jesus by your side?
We all have doubts and fears. You may be shattered by the loss of a loved one, dealing with health issues, facing a financial crisis, seeking spiritual fulfillment, needful of an emotional pick me up or just feeling sad. Yet, as followers of Jesus – together we can lift each other up. You don’t have to do it alone. We can be “Broken Together” and that’s okay – because we know that God uses broken things. God can put our broken pieces back together in a different way so that they will have a new meaning and make us feel loved and complete.
There’s a story about a king who bought two beautiful eagles to fly above his kingdom. He hired a bird trainer to work with the Eagles. The trainer set up an area with large perch made from a cottonwood branch. One of the birds would soar and fly until the trainer called him back. The other bird would fly low, circle around and land back on the branch. No matter what the trainer did he couldn’t get the second bird to fly very far. The trainer went to the king and told him about his dilemma. The king made a call for assistance and a local farmer stepped up and said he could help. The next day when the king looked up, he saw both birds were flying high above the castle. The king called the farmer and asked, “what did you do?” The farmer replied, “I cut off the branch!”
Sometimes God will march into your life and cut the branch you are sitting comfortably on so you have no choice…
you will either sit on the ground or soar above the clouds.
Our lives change – we go through seasons. Seasons where we want to cry all the time and seasons of joy, seasons of sickness and seasons of health – and it seems that while we are going seasons of hardship we wonder what will get us through, how will we survive the times of trouble and difficulties? The Christmas story about that little baby born in the manger gives us the answer – Jesus brings us hope for tomorrow knowing that what we are going through is not permanent. When we are facing challenges / they seem really big– don’t they? Sometimes we feel as though feels like they will never end.
But just as the angels said to the shepherds, don’t be afraid – take the time to pray with confidence and hope for a better future and an easier tomorrow.
You may say, “But look around today—there are so many people who are hurting and so much anguish in the world. Yes, especially when you look at news reports. But God gives us hope – hope for tomorrow filled with god’s grace. And the best way to spread this hope – is to grow right where you are planted. To do what God wants most – show love to your neighbors, family and friends, and not only your fellow believers, but be of service and come to the aid of those whom God has placed in your path. Help those who desperately need to hear the good news of God’s love. When we share the Christmas story with others, we restore hope and joy and peace and light and love into the lives of those who live in darkness and have no hope.
God’s gift of Hope: Hope for a tomorrow with fresh answers to old problems. Hope in a world filled with patches of darkness that disappears when one person shares the light that God put inside them. Hope in knowing that your situation will change – but your god won’t. The Christmas gifts we received several years ago have now become obsolete, but God remains current, and his gift of Jesus is always new, never changing. Jesus is the same today to those who accept him and invite him in – as he was to those who trusted him more than two thousand years ago.
God’s Gift is You! You are the light, you are the love, you are the model for Joy and Peace, You are the hope, and you are god’s gift to the world!