November 3, 2015
We all have our safety zone, that range of circumstances that we’re comfortable with or the people that we’ve learned to interact with easily and without much conscious effort. The borders of that zone are often determined by our fears, and what we think will be acceptable to others in our behavior, and what exceeds comfortable levels of effort on our part.
The safety zone is nice and cozy. The problem is that if we allow it to govern our decisions, it can end up leaving little room for growth or development. It can stifle our experiencing all that life has to offer, and unless we continue to stretch ourselves, we can risk becoming complacent in heart, mind, and spirit.
The danger of our staying within our personal safety zone if the Lord is trying to broaden our horizons is that we can gradually be lulled into a mediocre existence where we don’t explore our potential. We can lose the ability to see how much more we can attain, to the point that we no longer take those exciting leaps of faith.
It’s uncomfortable to break through those boundaries and there are risks, because we don’t know what we’ll encounter. But the satisfaction, the fulfillment, and the excitement of facing new people, new ideas, and new opportunities is all part of what makes us deeper, purpose-driven individuals. We can never know our full potential unless we are willing to stretch beyond what we think are our limits.
Peter was telling me about a time when he visited a physical rehabilitation center and watched a man who was learning to walk again. The man had been taking only shuffling tiny steps, but the therapist had decided that it was time for him to do more. The man protested, fearful that it was impossible and that he would fall. However, with a therapist on either side, virtually forcing him to walk faster and faster, he realized that he really could do it. He never would have taken those steps of progress on his own.
The nature of the Lord is such that He sometimes disrupts our comfort zones and brings new challenges into our lives that force us to take a hard look at the limitations we’ve placed on ourselves, so that we can step outside them. As we do, we often find out that it’s not quite as unsettling as we had imagined, and many times we find a new world of opportunities and potential that we hadn’t previously thought was possible.—Maria Fontaine
“Lord, why do I have such a hard time stepping out of my shell and trying new things? Why do I get so anxious and afraid at even the thought of it? Today I’m going to ask You for the courage my spirit needs. You are God, and Your love eternal is with me in all deeds.”
Yesterday [I was] thinking about how difficult it can be to step out of our safety zone. The stress, anxiety and fear of trying something new, moving on to a new relationship, job, trying a new routine, can be so very stressful.
There are little changes in life (a new outfit that we are hesitant to wear) and there are big ones (new jobs, changing homes, giving up addictions, losing a loved one). All are stressful on one level or another.
We hear, over and over again, that the first step is the hardest. From experience and being someone that is a little (or a lot) OCD, I can tell you that this is very true. I can spend days, weeks, months and even years before I can face some changes in my life.
The “trick,” so to say, in this is to have faith in God so that the first step we take in any new venture is guided by Him and on the path that He has already created for us, before time began. I like to thank God before I start a new venture, knowing that when a new direction is in His will, it will always go according to His plan for me. The road does not always seem to be easy, but it ends up always adding value to my life and often to those around me.
Take a deep breath, say a prayer of thanks, and take a baby step out in faith. You are loved, you are cared for, you are protected by the Creator of the universe.
Numbers 10:9 says: “When you go into battle [face the unknown] in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you [which can sometimes be fear within ourselves], sound a blast on the trumpets [in other words, praise God!]. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies.”—Easter Ellen1
And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”—Matthew 14:25–31
Peter was actually walking on the water until he looked around and noticed the wind and the waves. Then he began to sink. Likewise, when we go through troubled times, if we focus on the circumstances surrounding us, we too will become fearful and sink. But if we keep our eyes on Jesus and focus on His ability and willingness to carry us through, we will eventually come out on top. Notice that when Peter began to focus on the commotion about him, which caused him to sink, Jesus chided him for a lack of faith. While it’s God who helps us to overcome our adversities, it’s our faith that opens the door to receive His help.
But there’s another interesting lesson for us here. Peter was the only disciple who had the courage to get out of the boat! Yes, he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink as a result. Still, he was the only disciple to experience the miracle of walking on water with the Master.
If you are going to do anything substantial for God, there are going to be times when He beckons you to get out of the boat and step out in faith. That means leaving your safety zone behind. It also means taking some risks. If you’re waiting for the water to come inside the boat before you’ll walk on it, you can forget it. God will not force you to get out of the boat. But if He calls you and you don’t answer, you will never know what awesome things He had planned for you. If you feel that the Lord is asking you today to step out in faith, tell Him you want His direction and timing, and ask Him to give you the courage you need to do His will. Then prepare to step out of the boat and into God’s glory!
Prayer: Lord, when I go through trials, help me to keep my eyes off my circumstances and on You. Hold me up and guide me safely through the storms of life. Whenever You call me to step out in faith, give me Your direction, discernment, and courage. Help me to be bold but not foolhardy. Help me to never jump ahead of Your plan or lag behind. Thank You for making me an overcomer and an instrument of Your glory.—J. M. Farro2
Published on Anchor November 2015. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
2 Life on the Go Devotional for Dads (Harrison House, 2006).
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