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Have You Stepped Out of Your Comfort Zone Lately?

Today's blog is from the blog archives. Why? Because, as I read through it, I was reminded of the value of its lesson—one that bears repeating to help us truly learn and embrace this challenge in our Christian walk. I pray it will bless you and prod you to move beyond your current spiritual boundaries.
Did reading this title feel kind of “uncomfortable”?

If so, you really need to read this blog. I’m right there with you, and writing this blog was a bit—for lack of a better or different word—well, uncomfortable for me, too. But that can absolutely be a wonderful thing. Let me explain.

1 Peter 3:15 issues an imperative statement to all believers: “. . . always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you . . .”—talk about getting out of your comfort zone. Yet, if every Christian took this command to heart and truly lived it out, imagine how much more widespread and immersive the good news of God’s Word would be in our culture today.
To make my point in this message, I handpicked a few well-used quotations to elaborate on and show why a comfort zone can be a dangerous place, especially for a Christ-follower.

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

The place of comfort is a place of quietness, inertia, rest, and no stress—also known as a place of dormancy and inactivity. Hmmm. Not that having time for rest is at all wrong, but we can't plant ourselves in this type of environment.
Living in the state of Maine, which is bursting with bodies of water, I have seen first-hand the results of this kind of stillness—foul, stinking, stale, putrid, rotting stagnation where life becomes impossible to sustain. Do you see a spiritual analogy forming here?
To be frank, the term “comfortable Christian” is an oxymoron (a figure of speech that has two contradictory or opposing words appearing side-by-side). Like a body of water, we are to be characterized by movement, growth, refreshing others, and breathing life-giving messages into our culture. That, my friends, requires us to continually get out of our places of comfort and complacency.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

Ever been on a diet? Ever tried something you’ve never tried before? I hope so, and if you have, you can also point to areas of positive growth and change that resulted from your efforts. Many times, the things that challenge us also reveal weaknesses, such as a distorted focus on ourselves that God is compelling us to surrender to Him: self-protection, self-consciousness, self-reliance, or selfishness, to name a few. To reflect a truly healthy image—spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally–means denying self and challenging ourselves to rely fully on God’s strength and wisdom (Matthew 16:24; Philippians 3:7–8).

“Don’t let fear make your decisions for you.”

The King James Version of the Bible uses the phrase “fear not” 74 times, and “be not afraid” 29 times. In fact, the most frequent command in God’s Word is tied to this idea of countering and overcoming fear. Interestingly, we are also told that the greatest commandment (which, by the way, is not the most frequently mentioned) is to love God, then to love your neighbor as yourself. It would appear that the Lord knew we would need many more reminders about not living with a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
In 1 John 4:18, we see the connection between these two commands. Here we read: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. . .” So, guess what? When I fear something, that’s a clear indication that I need to pray for more love—God’s love—to flow through me to those He is guiding me to share my message with.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I don’t believe this quote was stated with the agenda of promoting bungee jumping off a cliff, watching horror films, or poking a bear, so to speak, but rather as a way of encouraging what the title of this blog states—getting out of your comfort zone—to promote growth, new connections, and courage. If the idea of doing something that’s not part of my usual practice generates a pit in my stomach, cold hands, or the taste of metal in my mouth, but it’s clearly God’s direction, I need to pray that His love takes over my anxious spirit, that His message flows through me, and that His name is glorified. After all, it is “not I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

For me, this happened most recently over an 8-day period, and it was not just one, but THREE things: a radio interview, a video shoot for a larger production, and a podcast interview.
  • Were each of these “opportunities” specifically orchestrated and organized as part of God’s plan for my life and ministry? Without question!
  • Was I fearful, anxious, or even somewhat terrified before stepping out to participate in each of these situations? Without question!
  • Did God show up faithfully in a mighty way to support and empower me through His Word, the encouragement of other believers, and prayer? Without question!
  • Did I go through a disruption that caused me to grow, love others more, and extend my reach? Without question!
You see, we were put on this earth and made in God’s image to glorify Him and to share His message of eternal life with those who haven’t heard or yet received His gift of salvation (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14; Mark 16:15) . We were never meant to have a “comfort zone” because we were not made for this world, and this world is not our home (Matthew 6:19, 20). Our true comfort rests in our joy in loving, knowing, and serving our Creator and Savior, who first and so perfectly has loved us.

Deuteronomy 11:13
And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to sere him with all your heart and with all your soul ...

Joshua 22:5
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.

Author Bio:
Holly Varnum, Director of Curriculum Development for Reasons for Hope, serves as the Managing Editor for our book projects and weekly blogs, writes blogs and curricular materials to support many of our media resources, speaks at conferences, and trains Christian educators. With degrees in education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration, she comes with over three decades of experience in working with teens and adults in camp ministry, teaching and administration, and curriculum writing (A Beka Book, Focus on the Family, and Answers in Genesis to name a few). God has provided her with a well-rounded educational perspective through service in Christian schools, charter schools, public schools, homeschooling, Christian camps, and local church ministry. She has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator, camp counselor, Sunday School teacher, ladies’ Bible Study teacher, and conference speaker. She looks forward to using her passion for God’s truth within the context of Reasons for Hope.

Her hobbies include cooking, baking, hiking, camping, traveling, and working on do-it-yourself projects. Holly and her husband, Paul, also enjoy any time they can spend with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren (so far!). They live between the beautiful states of Maine and southern New Jersey, and yes, they eat lobster (properly pronounced “lobstah”) and crab whenever they get a chance!

To learn more about Holly, or to book her as a speaker for educational, ladies', or girls' events, click 
HERE.

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