- C. S. Lewis
The term "comfort zone" has long rankled me, because it's become such a cliche. But overall I think I agreed with people who said things like "God wants you out of your comfort-zone", or who would share testimonies of how they "stepped out of their comfort zone" to be used by God.
But I wonder . . .
Recently I heard a person speak who has lived a life of great risk for the spread of the gospel. He spoke of those he has known who have lived abundantly within the passions and gifts that God has given them, and - I don't have his exact words or even the context - he made the point that we should do what God has gifted us to do, what he has given us a passion to do.
This set me to thinking. Are we mistaken if we we think that "whether or not I'm in my comfort zone" is a true measure of "whether or not I'm following the Lord"? I think we are.
Yes, many things we may find ourselves doing as Christians will be hard and uncomfortable. But there is no Biblical standard that I can think of that measures our usefulness to God based on how the Comfort Zone Meter™ is reading. In scripture the standard is how we are running the race; are we walking in the flesh or in the spirit? Are we abiding in Jesus and bearing much fruit or are we in a far country? And along those lines, how "comfortable" was the prodigal son in the pigpen? His coming back to the Father was heading directly toward his "comfort zone".
Doing things outside of our CZ does not (necessarily) please the Lord. In fact, I know that often times when I am doing something outside of what he's gifted me to do, I stink at it. He has gifted me in certain ways, at least based on my understanding and the internal witness affirming this to me, along with the verbal affirmation of others. I know that when I'm exercising my gifts well, far more rarely than I'd like, sadly, I don't feel uncomfortable. I feel exhilarated.
From a physical standpoint, Paul lived about as uncomfortable a life as you can imagine. But have you noticed that when he's recounting the beatings, shipwrecks, cold, hunger and other deprivations that he has experienced for Jesus, there is a background echo of joy in his writing?
Paul lived way outside of what I would consider my comfort zone. But I think it was right in the middle of his. If you read between the lines, he sounds like he's having a blast.
I'm throwing my comfort-zone meter away, and praying that God gives me the courage to exercise the gifts he's given me in a lifestyle of risk and devotion. I have a feeling that entering into a life like that, for one who is a fully-devoted follower of Jesus, would be extremely - I know this doesn't sound like the right word to use here - comfortable.
I'm open to correction on this.