Looking outside the box…

I feel led to share this again…perhaps because, as my pastor so accurately said last night, God is stirring in His people. He’s calling many of us to step outside our comfort zones, to be obedient, and to trust Him on deeper levels.

I wrote this almost exactly two years ago… but it’s just as true now as it was then. I pray it encourages you this year as well.

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The past few days were an amazing weekend in several ways…some of them quite different than I expected. That’s not a bad thing, though. I find myself realizing, in a new way (again), how walking with God is a step by step kind of thing. A constant discovery of new things. A never-ending learning process.

So often we talk about how we can’t put God in a box…yet I think we put ourselves (and how He can use us) in a box just as often. We call it our comfort zone. The area outside that box is filled with fear, nervousness, and uncertainty. Not fun. So of course we’d rather stay in our comfort zone.

But what if we’ve put everything outside our comfort zone in a box as well? We’ve taken that vast expanse of space where God dwells and put it in this bigger box and called it “stepping outside our comfort zone.” The uncomfortable zone.

But there’s a big problem with our notions and our boxes. (Probably more than one, actually.) Simply put, our comfort zone often isn’t always all that comfortable. In fact, when God says “move out” it can get distinctly uncomfortable. On the other hand, moving outside our box doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.

I’m wondering if all those times when we’ve stepped outside our box and found fear and nervousness were times when we stepped out on our own initiative, instead of God’s. Or perhaps, we stepped out according to God’s leading, but not His timing. When Samuel anointed the kings of Israel, he never did it at the moment when they were called to actually step onto the throne. God was declaring His purpose and direction, but the timing had not yet come.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Throughout the Bible, God often said, “I have called you to _____.” And then, sometimes years later would come the command, “All right, the time is now.”

I’m afraid that many of us, today, forget to wait for the now part of the command…and so we step outside of our box on our own initiative and think that God has called us to be uncomfortable and fearful and nervous and confused about what we should be doing. We’ve somehow come to expect that following God “outside the box” is supposed to be a nerve-wracking uncomfortable thing…and I have no idea why, when God continuously says that His ways are filled with peace and joy!

The reality that I’m learning is that there is a path outside my comfort zone that is nothing like that preconceived uncomfort zone idea. Instead of fear, there is peace. Instead of nervousness, there is trust. Instead of uncertainty there is…trust again, and the certainty of knowing that God knows what He’s doing and it really doesn’t matter if I don’t.

What’s even more amazing is how, when God leads you one small step at a time, you don’t necessarily even realize that you’ve stepped outside your box. Looking back at this weekend, I now see that this is exactly what God did…and I didn’t realize.

I heard Him call me to do one thing, and He was right there. I didn’t think much of it, I simply obeyed.

I asked Him for direction, to speak to me, to tell me what to do. All I heard was the four words, “I will use you.”

I walked the path He had laid out for me over the weekend, anticipating something great…something amazing…something that would wow me with the glory of Him.I’m receiving my revelation now, as I look back and realize that all those small steps He led me along…the many moments of not receiving what I had hoped for…were instead the first along a path I’ve never walked before. A path that I once thought would fit those uncomfort zone ideas, but turned out to be nothing more than simply walking with Him and obeying.

Will it always be like this? Should it always be like this? I think so, if we are truly walking in the Spirit, for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Comfort…from the Comforter. And He lives outside my boxes.

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