“They asked him to stay longer, but he declined.” Acts 18:20 (NLT)
I have a comfy throw I snuggle in when watching my favorite TV program.
I wear faded and worn jeans at home.
I have a pair of shoes needing to be retired, but they fit in all the right places, so I keep them handy. Just in case.
I love comfort; yet following Christ means that God often leads me out of my comfort zone.
Paul the apostle modeled a life far from comfort. When he wasn’t in prison for preaching about Jesus, he had a packed travel schedule. He preached in Thessalonica, traveled to Berea, spoke in the synagogue in Athens, made his way to Corinth, set sail for Syria, and made a brief stop in Ephesus. At Ephesus the crowd was eager for him to stay.
After all that travel, can you imagine how tempting that invitation must have been? It would be so easy to settle in with new friends to enjoy a respite from the unfriendly religious leaders, accusations, and fatigue of ministry.
Instead, Paul said a simple goodbye with a promise to return one day, God willing.
Five years ago I was invited to speak in Europe. Sounds amazing, right? It was, except for the fear that lodged right in the center of my chest as God called me away from my cozy throw and faded jeans. We were traveling to three countries and six cities in 10 days. There were language barriers to overcome. The speaking schedule was intense. And massive cultural differences had to be hurdled, especially in the area of faith.
There were times I was far outside my comfort zone on that journey. But I also had a front row seat to watch God work.
We witnessed the faith of moms whose families and neighbors weren’t Christians light up with encouragement as we shared the Word of God. We drank thick Turkish coffee with immigrants in a refugee camp, praising and worshiping God together.
God was powerful in our own lives as we traveled by train, plane, and carâ€”filled to overflowing in spite of the demanding schedule as we led Bible studies in homes, spoke at conferences, and ministered one-on-one.
Paul surely experienced this spiritual excitement on his journeys. Maybe he didn’t linger in comfortable places because he had discovered the joy of walking straight into the lives of those who needed a Savior.
Since my first trip I’ve returned twice more with the team. Different countries. New challenges. Each time I was reminded that faith is an adventure and God sometimes calls comfy girls away from their safe places.
Maybe like me, you love to get comfy. It feels good to be settled. It’s nice to know what to expect. But if you sense God inviting you out of your comfort zone, are you willing to go?
When God leads us out of our comfort zones, we experience uncharted territory. We might even come to the end of ourselves.
But we also have the privilege of being a small part of a big plan, offering our willing hearts and seeing the work only God can do.
Dear Lord, I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone to discover Your plan, not just for me, but for those You love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.