Stretching the Comfort Zone

people stretching in a park

Sunday night our CityReach team had our last preparation session before our departure for this grand adventure.

It was a bit… awkward.

Well, it was for a moment now and then.

Of course, we could say the same for our time of commissioning prayer as various individuals came along and put their hands on our shoulders as they prayed for us. Some people are rather uncomfortable with such things. But then I suppose that’s part of the point of this whole project.

Well, sort of…

Our mission is to go and give expression to the gospel of grace in word and in deed. But, for most of us, much that is involved in this mission is beyond our everyday comfort zone. That is to say that most of us are not particularly comfortable going and doing what we are going to go and do.

When we think about it, we know that very little healthy growth—physically, emotionally, or spiritually—happens when we are comfortable. Just like muscles don’t grow until we push them to their capacity, well beyond comfort, our comfort zones need to be stretched now and then by pushing ourselves.

Sunday night, as we sat in the familiar, comfortable confines of my living room, some of us stretched our comfort zones by telling our faith story. We shared how we met Jesus and how He is working in our lives. Most of us don’t talk about that very freely. And that’s a comfort zone that surely needed to be stretched.

As we go to Detroit to participate in this great ministry, most of us will have our comfort zones stretched in various ways. We will go to unfamiliar places and hear unfamiliar voices. We will join with unfamiliar people to serve and unfamiliar city in unfamiliar ways.

It’s not all comfortable.

But this stretching of our comfort zones is a part of our continued growth as followers of Jesus.

Why would we do that? Why do we need to do that?

I have come to the understanding that my spiritual growth, my ongoing maturing in my faith, is not really about me. It’s about the souls around me that may see God at work in me and want to know Him. That’s why Jesus summed up the whole of God’s commandments in the call to love God and love others.

In taking a group of students and leaders across the country to serve the kingdom in uncomfortable ways, we can stretch our comfort zones in a way that we hope and pray will lead to greater, more significant and deliberate and impactful ways right here at home when we return.

Ultimately, it is the essence of following Jesus that Paul the Apostle described so powerfully in his letter to the Philippian church:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2.5-8

When we consider what Jesus left behind to make a way for us to be with Him, how can we not step up in gratitude and start stretching our comfort zone?

Father, stretch us beyond our comfort zone – for our good and for Your glory.

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