Comfort Zone: Keep Out!
by Jim Kirkwood
"Pop" was a sometime preacher - sometime carpenter. At the moment he was doing some carpentry for me. Rough stuff. Pop didnít do finished carpentry...didnít know how. Just a wood-butcher, 3rd class with a reputation for having a heart as big as a steering wheel. A big, brawny bear of a man, but Father Time had reduced his walk to a shuffle and handed him a cane. Amiable, genial, with a ready smile; I couldnít remember ever seeing him frown.
He had just worked six hours and I had paid him for eight. Mary had fed him a delicious, home-cooked meal. He was happy, almost bubbly. I was driving him home when we just fell into a conversation about spiritual things. Talking about the things of God can be great fun and we were enjoying each otherís input when it happened! I mentioned the Rapture and a cloud settled over his face. His brow knitted, his jaw tightened, the veins in his neck stood out, and his face began to flush a deep, dark red. In place of the familiar smile were lips drawn taught and almost blue. Pop exploded in anger. "The Rapture!?!" He spat the words out like a mouth full of too-hot coffee. Angry words were stepping on one another as they tumbled out of his mouth.
He hated the Rapture with a passion and had little use for anyone "fool enough to believe that abominable heresy." We were stopped at a red light and Pop bailed out slamming the door, and still three blocks from home. His feet seemed to be racing his cane as he fled to a saner environment.
Weeks later I learned that when Pop was a little boy his dad sold the family home and turned the money over to the pastor of their little country church in Kentucky. The family then donned white robes, that had formerly served as bed sheets, and joined the rest of the congregation on a mountain top to await the coming of the Lord for His church. All day long they waited, their robes becoming wilted and sweat stained, but the only one "raptured" was the pastor. He disappeared about noon and was never heard from again.
What had made a normally friendly man suddenly hostile? His "comfort zone" had been invaded by an unwelcome intruder. As a result, he discarded a precious truth because of an unpleasant experience.
All of us have our comfort zones. Like agoraphobics (abnormal fear of open spaces) we donít like to wander out of them. And like hermits, we donít appreciate intruders. Some of us have large and some small zones. Popís was pretty big. But, deeply wounded by the poverty that dogged his family after the pastor made off with their life savings, he was quickly stung by any remembrance of that calamitous event. The word "rapture" was all it took to summon the unpleasant memory from its grave and marshall all of its anguished moments to war against Popís happiness.
God and Bible doctrine can greatly expand our comfort zones. Paul, with the aid of Godís Word, had come to learn to be content with a little or a lot. Some of us live squeaky little lives because we live in squeaky little zones. Many things offend us, making contentment elusive. We need to push back the horizons of our little patch of safety. God is bigger than the limitations we put on Him by our lack of courage. Our comfort zones become burial plots instead of the huge estates God meant them to be. Like Balboa, we could discover an ocean. But, like Balboa, we must shed the shackles of mediocrity and don the cloak of an adventurer.
God designed oceans for men to sail, not just to be objects of wonder admired from the shore. Life was meant to be eagerly explored, not fenced out. God means for us to sail Lifeís sea with an adventurous spirit, using the Bible as our compass. This requires a conscious effort to enlarge our zones, and thatís the "rub." Adding to oneís acre of security means becoming comfortable today with what made us uncomfortable yesterday. Fear must give way to courage, apathy to action, dreaming to determination.
When we trusted the total saviorhood of Christ, the Holy Spirit placed us permanently in the Body of Christ, a colony of Heaven on loan to Planet Earth. We will serve God throughout the countless "trillions of years" of Eternity. Heaven will be Heaven because we will be serving Him. But we will never have another opportunity to serve Him as we are now called upon to do...in time...on earth. The present challenge will never be repeated. The present opportunity will never come again. Today we serve Him as fallen Adamís redeemed progeny, in Satanís world system, in an evil age, in a difficult time, surrounded by enemies, faced with problems, and indwelt by conflict. We are called upon to glorify Him in our bodies and in our spirits which are His...NOW! We will only have this opportunity once! Never again will we have the chance to return His love in the face of such hardship. Service to our Lord today is to be coveted, pursued, treasured, delighted in.
C.T. Studd said, "Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God." Victories come easily within tiny perimeters, but they are tiny victories over tiny foes. Believers are called to and equipped for venturing onto new ground filled with giants and dragons to be slain. Studd again, "Forward ever! Backward never!"
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