Fear or Unfamiliar?

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!

A Stranger in the Mist

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!

frying pan

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 ,)

uncomfortable

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 🙂

What is unfamiliar or unknown

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.

feeling safe in silence

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
  • silence prepares us to receive