Sometimes words just come to me. They come at the strangest times and they rattle around in my spirit and get past my focus and just sit there…way back there…in this weird little place at the back of my mind and just on the edge of my periphery and then… they just sit there.
That happened the other day while I was doing my quiet time. I was just doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I was spending some time in the Word and trying to get to know my God better, when all of the sudden, it happened again. A single word… then, a phrase…and then a quick rush of sentences while I scrambled for the pen and the beautiful pad of sticky notes that I inherited the last time my friend Patty decided to do a house purge.
I scribbled the quick barrage of words all down and wondered if I should get up and blog about it right then, but—since I was actually doing my quiet time—I decided that I’d better finish that first. I thought about it again when I was through, but the timing didn’t see quite right then, either, so I just waited. You see, I’ve been there before. I knew God was about to make a point…to me and possibly, to someone else, as well, but timing is always the key thing on these issues and I’ve learned to take my cues from God…since He seems to know best about these things.
Apparently, the time is now. Just after 2 AM…it is very AM and I was awakened out of a sound sleep with the overwhelming sense of urgency to get up and write about this word: comfortable. Yes, I know. It’s really funny, isn’t it, that God woke me out of a sound sleep all snuggled in with my big pillows and soft cotton sheets—the very definition of the word “comfortable”—to put these words on a screen in the middle of a time when I’d really rather be doing something else entirely.
(Again, I stress to you the irony and the exhibition of humor that my God has when He’s trying to get through to us. God can be downright hysterical at times. Did you hear it, too? Yes, there it is. I just heard Him chuckle…again.)
Anyway, back to my story. I was sitting in my keeping room in my nice green chair that God gave to me on sale right after we bought this place and all of the sudden, there was this word. Comfortable. Well, yes, I was comfortable, thank you very much. Comfortable. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. Absolutely nothing…unless…you’re being called to do or be something else at the moment.
I’ve asked God to help me be quiet enough to hear Him on these things and He does that, but the thing is, you see, that God’s quietness doesn’t mean inactivity. It means that while He’s being quiet and you’re being quiet…well, He’s really most likely up to something that often isn’t very quiet at all. It also means that when it is time to no longer be quiet… that He may begin nudging and pushing at the same time that you’re in the middle of something else. It means that you may have to give up something comfortable to go do what He tells you to do…and it may not be comfortable for you…or someone else…at all.
Nothing about Jesus was comfortable. He was never the center of easy living, but that doesn’t mean that He wasn’t full of peace. His disciples weren’t living comfortable lives, either. There were no regularly adoring crowds of people who lined up to invite Jesus and His crew to stay in their best guest room and send them away with a bunch of great leftovers. No. To be near Him, to get to know Him, to participate in His work, they endured. Just in case you were wondering? It is still worth it to do so.
While you can find plenty of Bible verses that talk about comfort, you won’t find a single one that says we’re supposed to be comfortable. In fact, it is just the opposite, and our problems can often increase when we decide to use comfort as our measure of what God is telling us to do. That’s just plain wrong. Never mistake comfort for God’s guidance. There is no Scriptural basis for it.
To the contrary, God seems to delight in placing His people where the world can see them be uncomfortable. Far from being sadistic, this actually results in us (His people) being drawn closer to Him because in the really uncomfortable times, we find our comfort in Him. What happens next–when God shows up and uses us in and through our discomfort–may be the only way that those who see it happen know He is at work there because what shows up most in us then… is HIM.
Take for instance, my friends who are dealing with significant health issues right now. While we pray for healing and hope for health, God is still at work there. There are people praying and there are some of them that are seeing God up close and personal in a totally new way…all because some of God’s people are hurting and praying and praising Him anyway. Lives are being changed…and I don’t just mean those who are in the center of the storm.
What about my missionary friends who gave up their lives and careers here in America—the land of ultimate comfort!—to minister in places far from family and friends because that’s just what God told them to do? That doesn’t mean they’re not excited about it or even that they don’t like it. To the contrary, I’ve been privileged to see their excitement and their passion for God and life in general increase because of the very changes that seemed so difficult in the beginning. In fact, I’ve even got one friend who may have found that she’s actually more comfortable on the mission field abroad…and God sent her back home to America…at least for now. Comfortable? I don’t think so.
Those are bigger examples, so I’ll move it a little closer to home. There are several people in my life who have recently (within the last two years) been called to radically different jobs than the ones they previously held. It has meant changes in salary, odd schedules, longer drive times, relocations, learning totally different processes and people and, quite frankly, there have been times when each of them have wondered aloud—in my presence, so I know it to be true—if they actually made the right decision when they made these big changes.
Maybe none of this strikes a chord with you. That’s ok. Trust me, God will be making a point with you shortly. Wherever you find yourself, I hope you’ll pay close attention to the little things He brings to mind and I hope that you’ll take the time to be quiet before Him and really hear what He has to say just to you. I hope you’re well and happy and yes, comfortable, wherever you are, but if not, don’t despair! God is at work even in your difficulties and fortunately, His word does have something to say about that.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…” 2 Corinthians 1:3