Friday, July 04, 2008

Comfort Zone

This past Wednesday night, Jim Caviezel was the guest speaker at our church. The place was absolutely packed out...there wasn't an empty seat in the house. Obviously, the main draw for most of the people that came but who don't normally attend was the fact that he is a movie star, which in itself is enough to bring people out in droves.

I was excited to hear him speak; I figured that he would spend some time talking about what it was like to star in The Passion of the Christ, and maybe talk briefly about how his faith has had an impact on his career.

I was wrong.

The boy can preach.

He isn't what I would call the most natural speaker in the world. He was soft-spoken. He didn't rush his thoughts, and there were plenty of long pauses between his words. But it wasn't the fact that he is an easy-on-the-eyes Hollywood star that was electrifying. The Holy Spirit was there, and it was powerful.

I would love to be able to summarize everything he said, but honestly, only one thing stands out to me. After I heard him say this, my mind latched onto it and hasn't let it go.

He said, "Just because God gives you something, it doesn't mean it's going to be easy."

That hit me like a giant white-capped wave. One of those moments that sort of stuns you with its simultaneous simplicity and depth.

He was speaking this in reference to playing the part of Jesus in The Passion. He went through quite a bit while actually filming it, and then in the aftermath, his career took a definite hit. He struggled through it, wanting to quit so many times, but knowing that there was Someone bigger than any of them at work, and knowing that he was fulfilling what he was born to do.

And so since Wednesday night, I have been pondering this. Just because God gives you something, it doesn't mean it's going to be easy.

For a long time, I had this idea in the back of my head. Something along the lines that if God called me to do something, whether it be something as simple as sharing my faith or something that really stretched me and called me completely out of my comfort zone, He would then pave the way, making it free from any bumps or barriers or general uncomfortableness. Surely He would not call me to do something that would rip away any security that I might feel. And if I were to actually obey Him and follow through on it, surely there would be only serenity and composure and complete poise on my part. There would be no floundering, no second-guessing, no wondering if it went as planned, no questioning whether it was well-received or if I came across like I knew what I was doing. Because if God was in it, well, then, would I not be transformed into someone who knows exactly what to say and do?

If only.

There are so many times that I am in situations that I know God wants me in. And it's uncomfortable. I say silly things. I am not fluid and graceful. I go home and replay in my head what just happened, and pick apart what I could have done better. And yet, I know He wants me there. He has chosen me for this, He has given it to me. But it doesn't mean it is easy.

For me, I know that pride plays a part. I don't want anyone to see my imperfections. What if they wonder why I'm in this position? What if they hear me say something completely off-the-wall? What if I miss a note? What if I don't know the answer?

But God chooses us, in spite of ourselves. He chooses us so that when things are accomplished, it is only because of Him, and so that it will be for His glory. Once I get past myself and realize that really, my comfort level in the situation isn't even a factor, then He will be exalted.

But that's hard to get past sometimes. Because I like to be comfortable. I don't like going into anything unless I am assured of the outcome. And I wonder how many times I've missed out on something in my life that I didn't want to pursue...because it wasn't simple or painless or convenient.

I do believe that He will give us peace through it. But having His peace and staying in your comfort zone are not the same thing. Sometimes He calls us out of that comfort zone first, and then He gives us that peace. Not the other way around, although wouldn't that be nice? And then He nudges us out into that place where we really have no clue what we're doing.

I have had these thought floating around in my brain for the past few days. I was having trouble formulating what I wanted to say; the pieces were there but they weren't quite fitting together. Then I read this post at La Vida Dulce. Kellie expressed it so beautifully and eloquently, and it was basically everything that had been spinning inside of me. If you get a chance, pop on over and see what she has to say.

So I am attempting to re-examine my life. To see if there are areas that I have barricaded and said, "Off-limits!" to God. To say, "I don't see how I'm gonna do this...but You can make it happen."

Because it's really not about me at all.


mamachristina said...

Very good points, Jackie. I think I will have to re read this when I have some quiet time to digest it all.

Cheri said...

First, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such wonderful words.

Second, and most importantly, thank you for this post. Sometimes, God puts people, things, words, just where I'll find them when I need them the most. thank you for being the writer of those words.

Casey said...

This is a great post. Beautifully written and very thought provoking. It made me think of this story from Matthew 26:38-40. He knew His calling, but that didn't make it easy. It is comforting to know that He has been where we are, eh?

The Bayou Belles and Their Beau said...

I understand you perfectly.

It's totally about fear for me ... fear of not being understood, fear of saying something stupid, fear of people's opinion of me, and so on, and so on. And it's in those instances, those uncomfortable places, where God calls me and wants me to obey. It's hard.

I heard someone say, "When God opens a door, just go through it." That has just stuck with me. If a pastor of the church is going to ask ME to speak, even though I feel totally unworthy, I hear God saying, JUST WALK THROUGH IT. Then, it becomes more about Him and less about me.

Jenn said...

Jackie, That was such a thought provoking post! How often do we all put up barricades because something may be out of our comfort zone. I know I do! I tend to replay uncomfortable instances in my mind and wonder why I didn't do this or say that. But God can use even the situations that we feel we messed up for His good.

Elena said...

This truth is foundational to our walk with the Lord. One of my favorite examples of this in the Bible is the life of the Apostle Paul. Thanks for your honesty in sharing this.

Jamie @ Purposeful Pursuit said...

Excellent post! I think I need to re-examine my own heart in a few areas. Thanks so much for sharing.

Gretchen said...

WTG Jackie! Inspirational post. Indeed, as much as I favor "easy", that's usually how God works. The message may be everso simple, but seldom easy.

How cool to see Jim Caviezel in person, and to see him working for God's glory--so cool!

Gretchen said...

oops! Typo! Should read, "that's usually NOT how God works. :)

Smilingsal said...

I'm a stranger, just wandering by. Perhaps your being a good wife and mom, along with having a blog is EXACTLY what God wants from you.
You sure have a nice blog.
Drop by mine if you get a chance.

Jennifer @ Taking My Time said...


Melanie said...

I am so glad that you had the blessed opportunity to hear Jim Caviezel speak - I have heard him twice, and what a true man of God. He has been given the gift, from the Holy Ghost, to touch hearts, and he has touched thousands, with his sharing of God's love. The Christian walk is definitely not easy, but it helps us to strengthen our faith, and God is there to help us along the bumpy paths. Like Jim said, "take a chance on faith!"

Wendi said...

your way with words continues to inspire me. God was definitely at work in getting this one posted! :) Really good stuff, and so, so relatable for me. I struggle very often with not taking steps of faith because of that fear. Fear that is unfounded and not of God. I often have to focus on that verse (2 Timothy?) that said God has not given us a spirit of fear bit a spirit of love, power, and self discipline.
I also enjoyed reading the post you linked to. GOOD stuff!

Kellie said...

I think you have expressed your heart very well. It is a comfort to me that others struggle in the same way: wanting to do might things for the Lord, but not wanting to get dirty!

I will pray (what I pray for myself!) for you as you seek God's purpose in life, I'll pray for courage and a willingness to be obedient...even when it isn't always in a pretty package!

I enjoyed getting the chance to look into your heart! Thank you for sharing...


Life In Progress said...

Very well written & all of it so true! It's also all things I need to work on. Thanks for making me think.

Anonymous said...

this is beautiful Jackie, just beautiful.