Whenever I travel to Africa, I’m reminded about the benefits of stability for the sake of progress. At the same time, let’s be careful not to get so comfortable with stability & equilibrium such that we stop growing.
Jesus often upset the Apple cart / status quo. He literally overturned the money changers tables in the temple. He defied the religious leaders of His day. He loved with an extravagance that was unnerving to many observers.
Here are some ideas to consider that you could consider personally with Apple cart upsetting:
Pursue Spiritual Gifts to be integrated into your daily living.
Love when its inconvenient.
Consider being generous with words / finances that isn’t within your normal scheme.
If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.
Do things that you’re unfamiliar with make you scared? I don’t think this is an uncommon experience for most people. On the other side, I think that we should sometimes be scared of the familiar or at least uncomfortable. I say this for lots of reasons. Being familiar & comfortable can:
create an illusion of safety & stability
lull us into taking stuff for granted
tempt us to rely on our own wisdom rather than trusting God
Let’s be careful that staying familiar keeps us from following God, growing & looking forward!
Several years ago there was a sitcom called “Cheers” & the theme song was all about, “where everybody knows your name.” We all have places & communities where we fit, belong & feel entirely smoothy groovy. On occasion, however, there are some times when we like to be anonymous & unknown. But being a stranger can sometimes be a place where we are forced to lean into God & not rest in what’s familiar, known & cozy – hazy, foggy & unknown. Resting & leaning into God, can sometimes be kind of tricky, but the trust space is frequently where we grow the most.
Let’s be mindful that we put ourselves in places & situations that push the envelope in helping us to attach more & more to God!
Out of the frying pan and into the fire: I was reading about how David was trying to stay away from King Saul in 1 Samuel because Saul was trying to kill David. It’s really interesting to me that God sent David a prophet in 1 Sam 22 & told David to leave the stronghold where he was staying & go back to Judah, where he was more vulnerable to Saul’s attempts to kill him – out of the frying pan and into the fire.
No one likes to be uncomfortable or in difficult situations. If you’re like me, we often look for the paths of least resistance & opposition, along with the areas of greatest safety and comfort. But clearly, this wasn’t how God was directing David in 1 Sam 22. It seems to me that we often trust God the least when we are the most comfortable ,)
Sometimes I think that comfort can be debilitating. Comfort can be the path of least resistance, the lack of stretching and sometimes the lack of growing. It’s definitely possible that when Jesus, the Son of God, was a newborn that He was uncomfortable – but all to our benefit!
I find that when I get in uncomfortable situations, if I lean into the Holy Spirit, I’m not nearly as uncomfortable. I may be stretched, pushed to grow, improve and get stronger. But ultimately if I have to make a choice, I’d rather grow, get stronger, improve and mature than remain comfortable, even in this busy Christmas season 🙂
Reece & I are taking a few days of vacation & we met some nice people yesterday with whom we had some enjoyable conversations. I find it interesting that when we first meet people, we tend to look for what we have in common & our conversations grow based on those commonalities or stop with the lack of commonalities. This has started me to thinking about how much we “chat” with God based on how different God is from us. I wonder if I don’t sometimes cut short some discussions with God because I don’t understand. Thankfully, God has come to us through Jesus & has done all the work to bridge any gaps of understanding. So my take away is to stay in those conversations & situations with God that can seem unclear & to be faithful in genuine love.
I just had the honor of attending a Veterans Day Ceremony at my kid’s school & it was really good. While I was there & on several other occasions, I noticed that people get really squirmy with “silence”. Sometimes when I’m giving a lecture or sermon, I do the silent thing for a few moments to make everyone just slightly jittery – its a little bit of twisted humor on my part. Nevertheless, the point remains that for many of us, we feel very uncomfortable with silence. In order to mitigate this discomfort we play music, talk on the phone, text our friends, hum or talk to ourselves, turn on the tv for background noise, . . . . just about anything to fill in the awkwardness we feel in silence. But there is massive solace, joy & even safety in silence. Mother Teresa said, “God is the friend of silence .”
So here are some thoughts that might help you to feel more comfortable with silence & feel free to add your own ideas as well:
quiet can be more soothing than filler noise
quiet can allow you to work through your thoughts to understand some deeper issues
try getting in 3-5min of quiet in each day (turning off everything & putting your phone on silent)
recognize that silence is an essential ingredient for listening