Well, He did it again. God stepped into my comfort zone and challenged me to step out. He enjoys doing that every now and then to make sure I stay on my toes, because, admittedly – I like to be comfortable. I’m not fond of embarrassing, awkward, unpleasant or self-conscious situations, and I certainly don’t take pleasure in willingly putting myself in those circumstances. But God does. I’ve found it’s where He does His best work.
God took the initiative to confront me through a comedian named Michael Jr. who recently spoke at our church at a special Sunday night service. His presentation was hilarious, but even better was the message his material brought – step out of your comfort zone and God WILL have your back. He went on to explain how God had blessed him with this amazing ability to make people laugh. It was a gift – a gift Michael Jr. knew needed to be shared with those who were hurting the most across America. So, he decided to step out of his comfort zone and see if his gift could make a difference. In his words, he decided it was time to stop “getting laughs and start giving them.” So, on the road he went.
God led him to several different venues – a homeless shelter, a shelter for abused children, a clinic with HIV patients, but one of the places that pushed Michael Jr. out of his comfort zone the most was a highly secured prison facility. It was where God wanted him to go, but certainly, not where he wanted to be. He tells the story of walking into the prison, and for the first time on this journey, being scared. He had no idea what he was going to say to these men. He began to pray, “Lord, you have brought me here. What am I going to say to these men who are facing life sentences behind bars? How can I give them laughter? How can this gift you have given me affect these men?” Michael Jr. literally had no material as he walked into the room filled with men who had absolutely no expression on their faces. He says he stepped on stage full of fear feeling completely alone. But he wasn’t alone. God was there, and He had been preparing for Michael Jr.’s arrival. You see, as Michael Jr. looked out into the audience of men, one man in particular caught his attention. It was a man with long white hair and a white beard. Seconds passed. Michael Jr. says he still didn’t know what he was going to say or how he was going to get these men to trust him enough to laugh. He then, on a whim, decided to ask the older man what his name was – his answer – “Moses.” Michael Jr. knew immediately his Lord was not only there, but He had his back! He finished telling the story in a hilarious way, saying he looked at the man and exclaimed, “Moses, I want you to do me a favor. Tomorrow, I want you to go to the warden, look him straight in the eyes and say, ‘warden – let my people go!’” The entire room broke out in laughter, and by the end of the show, lives were changed. Did you get that? As a result of his discomfort, as a result of his obedience, lives were changed. Are there lives around you that need to be changed? Is God calling you to possibly change your life by doing some work for Him? Rest assured, you don’t have to visit a prison to make a difference.
Stepping out of your comfort zone has many different facets. It can be the more obvious physical step of faith – serving at a local shelter, volunteering in your community, going on a mission trip, or befriending someone who is different from you. However, stepping out of your comfort zone can also be an emotional step of faith – letting go of anger or bitterness and allowing joy to dwell, offering forgiveness in what seems to be an unforgiveable situation, allowing peace to reign in a season of chaos, or being kind to those who are cruel. Both types of steps require spiritual courage, and both can be difficult. After all, it’s scary when we step into the unfamiliar territory of what I can only call the “God zone.” God’s zone challenges us. It makes us rely solely on His power, and that can be frightening. Remember when Moses was called by God to save the enslaved Israelites, he exclaimed, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4:13). Even the Apostle Paul was scared to step out of his comfort zone as seen in his letter to the Corinthians, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). When God calls us into His zone, we subject ourselves to rejection, disappointment and hurt, so our flesh pulls us in the other direction. But God wants us to put our insecurities into His mighty hands. He wants us to celebrate our weaknesses instead of running from them so that His power may be made perfect. Both Moses and Paul saw this incredible power first hand. In fact, as a result, Paul gave us some words of wisdom when we doubt our ability to step out of our comfort zone, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
If we want to experience the magnificent power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is essential for us to step into God’s zone and out of our accustomed one of comfort. God will be there waiting for us. Remember, when we make that courageous move, He WILL have our back. May we hold each other accountable in making those steps of faith. For as a result of our steps, lives will be changed – and that life may be our own.
Until next week, desperately trying to take a giant step into His zone… Katie