I’ve looked for it in Scripture. Believe me, I have looked. I have searched diligently and, were it there, I feel quite certain I would have found it. But, after decades of studying God’s Word, I have to resign myself to the fact that there is no command to get comfortable and stay put. God’s people are never encouraged to find a safe spot and hunker down. I’ll admit that, sometimes, I really wish that’s how this thing worked.
What I see, instead, is this recurring theme of God calling people out of their comfort zones. Time and time again, disciples left loved ones and livelihood behind. In chapter eleven, the author of Hebrews lists many Old Testament heroes of faith and describes them as strangers, exiles, and wanderers (Hebrews 11:13,38.) That doesn’t sound very comfortable to a homebody like me. Then, we have the command to New Testament believers to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus. Do you know what crosses are not? Comfortable.
It turns out that my obsession with my own comfort is in direct conflict with the whole gist of the gospel which assumes we will be a people who go. To our neighbors. To our family. To strangers. To unfamiliar territory. Back home. From Abram all the way to the confused disciples in the upper room – the command stayed the same. “Go.” When it doesn’t make sense to you – go. When others mock you – go. When you’re afraid – go. We do this to follow Jesus who knew a little something about going, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
When I was ten, we moved from my childhood home in Ohio to South Carolina. Then, as a teenager, I moved from South Carolina to East Tennessee. Then, as an adult, to middle Tennessee. Then, to Alabama. Then, back to Tennessee. Then, to Kentucky. Then, somewhere else in Kentucky. Just typing that out exhausts me and stirs up a little anxiety.
Somewhere, in the midst of all the moves, I began to desperately desire roots. I wanted to plant myself permanently in one place. To get comfy and cozy and have a forever home. I envied people who had lifelong friends with inside jokes and weekly coffee dates. Who finished each other’s sentences and quoted lines from movies they had apparently watched countless times – together, of course. I even envied those who talked about back home as if, though they weren’t presently there, there was at least a place they knew of as home.
Along the way, slowly and subtly, something sinister began to sneak into my heart. I began to idolize this idea of “home” that I had created in my mind. The line between God’s call and my comfort became blurred. My flesh earnestly longed to belong somewhere. To have a place. To have people. Just as surely as the children of Israel fashioned themselves a golden calf, I had created an idol for myself that I began to desire more than God. (That was hard to admit.)
I’ve always said that Satan is crafty, but he isn’t creative. He’s been using the same bag of tricks forever. And do you know why? Because, so often, they work. Just like Eve in the garden, the enemy began trying to convince me that God was withholding something good from me. How could something that I desired so greatly not be good for me? I was Eve staring at that one tree thinking, “It sure looks good from where I’m standing.” Somewhere, in my heart, I decided to do whatever it took to stay put.
to be continued…