Lately, God has been challenging me to get out of my comfort zone in a number of ways. It all started with a simple prompting to move from my favourite seat at church to an uncomfortable position in the front row, which brought to the surface my well-hidden inferiority complex. And as I’ve been pulling others out of their comfort zones to come and sit with me, I’ve watched them struggle with the same things I’ve been struggling with myself. It’s interesting how getting out of your comfort zone makes you see everything, including yourself, in a new and different way.
For many of us, the comfort zone is a sacred place. It’s something we don’t like to talk about and for each one of us, it is something different. The comfort zone is defined as a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress. Here in North America, everything we do is meant to lead us a little closer to that place of comfort, where we don’t have to stress or worry about finances or life in general. But in the comfort zone, there are limitations.
Nothing out of the ordinary happens in the comfort zone and that’s the whole idea. It’s predictable. It’s routine. It’s boring. There’s no risk in the comfort zone and no challenges readily present themselves that can’t be subdued and wrestled into submission. The only problem with the comfort zone is there’s no life and it’s only a matter of time before things become stagnant.
What once was new has now become routine in the comfort zone. Even your prayer, devotions and church on Sunday can become rote and all too predictable. You’re no longer challenged and you can be marginally there and get away with it. In other words, you’ve gotten comfortable and even confident in your own ability to get by.
You don’t have to lean on God quite as hard as you used to. You may be secure in your job, your ministry and even though your finances may not be where you want them to be, for the most part, you’re comfortable. The pain of staying where you are is lesser than the pain of stepping out into the unknown. The problem with all of this is that Jesus said, “Follow Me,” not “Have a seat, put your feet up and make yourself comfortable.”
When God called His people out of Egypt, they had been in a very uncomfortable position for a long time. But when they entered into the learning zone, aka the wilderness, they longed for the known and the familiar, as rotten as it was. It’s hard to believe that Egypt had somehow become their comfort zone, but there are many today who have gotten comfortable even in the midst of bondage.
Of course, God is calling us out of that place of comfort and as we follow His leading, we find ourselves in the learning zone, facing trials, tests and tribulations. You may be in a very difficult marriage where you’re learning to forgive on a day to day basis. You may have experienced death or other losses in the learning zone. The learning zone is a hard place of pruning, correction and course adjustments, but it too is meant to be temporary. Strangely, God’s people had the same tendency we do to get back into their comfort zone as quickly as possible, even though it didn’t make sense for them to be moving backwards.
God was and is still calling His people to leave the past behind and enter into the faith zone. Unlike the comfort zone and even the learning zone, you do not enter the faith zone by your own initiative. It is God’s initiative. God may be asking you to step out into something new, something unfamiliar and something you cannot do on your own without Him or you will make an utter fool of yourself.
Entering the faith zone involves risk, even possible danger, but you know this is what God is calling you to do. It’s been confirmed in numerous ways over and over again and as much as you’ve tried to deny it, you know the time to act is now.
Even though you have peace and assurance that you’re in the center of God’s will, fear is present and tangible in the faith zone. Some of your friends and family will not approve of you going into the faith zone. In fact, you’ll even lose some friends, guaranteed.
I keep coming back to the wise words of Charles Stanley: “Relationships are for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” Ministry assignments, jobs and the various roles we play in life are the same. Whatever it is God is calling you out of, make the decision to let go, grieve the loss and move on.
Even good things have a life cycle. What worked in the past may not be working to your benefit now. In fact, it may even be hindering you from focusing on your priorities. Once you have a clear vision of where you’re going, ask yourself which relationships and activities are not taking you where you want to go. You must pack light for the faith zone. You cannot take everyone and everything with you. Who or what must be lovingly pruned from your life in order to fulfill the call of God for this new season?
In the faith zone, there will be obstacles, challenges and even personal attacks. But in the faith zone, there are resources, relationships and opportunities that you will not find in the comfort zone. And best of all, you’ll experience more of God’s presence. In the faith zone, you will hear God’s voice and know Him in greater ways than you’ve ever experienced before.
The faith zone for you may be taking a step of faith and walking through a new door of opportunity, entering into a new relationship or taking on a new and challenging ministry assignment. Or it may be something as simple as switching seats at your church.
What step of faith is God challenging you to take in this new season?