Uncomforting Comfort

I am a creature of comfort.

I love cozying up to a coffee, a fuzzy blanket, and a good book. I enjoy doing the things I like. I like feeling safe and loved. I prefer to do the things I am good at (or at least think I’m good at) instead of the things I’m not as good at. I like feeling at ease – as though my life is wrapped around me like a warm blanket. I will go out of my way to leave my house 10 minutes early so I can buy a coffee on a Friday before I go to work. I would rather talk with people I know than meet people I don’t.

Do you know what brings me the most comfort? Planning. Not just any plan – a well thought-out, itemized, goal oriented, risk-managed plan.

This is how I approach my life. I’m twenty-three and if I could have everything planned out for the next 5 years I would. I mean, ideally I would have at least 10 with a contingency plan but 5 years is me trying to be optimistic. In my head a 3 year plan is realistic. Do you know those people who say “come any time around 8 – we’re flexible”? I’m not that person. If I say 8 I mean 7:55 – earlier if necessary to account for traffic and weather.

I hate change.

I don’t like the idea of leaving. I don’t want to do things outside my “comfort zone”. I would rather not confront someone and just deal with it myself than bring up an issue. I dislike when employees or processes change at work. I really don’t like the idea of having to change how I set up my schedule. I don’t want to let new people into my bubble.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some changes that I didn’t hate!

I liked changing from not owning a car to owning one. I enjoy not having to go to school anymore. I much prefer life after the discovery of coffee…The only times I like change are when it makes me feel more comfortable – I liked buying a new car because it made it more comfortable to get to work, to do what I wanted after work, and to be less dependant on others. No school? Significantly less stress and more time. Coffee? Um, have you tried it?

The only time I like change is when I have control over that change or I know it will bring me more comfort. (and, you know, I’ve spent a few months working it into my life plan) Change scares me at the best of times, and at the worst of times it’s a thing I avoid like the plague.

Lets see what God has to say about my comforting plans:

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
– Proverbs 16:9

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
– Proverbs 19:21

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
– James 4:13-15

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
– Proverbs 27:1

I like the way my life is. I’m comfortable in it. But God doesn’t say I get to live a comfortable, “well-planned-out-by-me” life. He doesn’t say I get to stay where I am. He keeps telling me there’s more to life than what I see now – that he isn’t done with me yet. And every time I decide to believe him and take a step forward I see that he’s right. But do you know what he does next? He whispers “Christy. I’ve still got more.” And he’s always right. Every. Single. Time. Even if I’m not more comfortable, the places he leads me are better. And how I view him and understand him gets richer and deeper.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
– John 10:10

I don’t think a full life doesn’t mean that all of my hours are planned. It doesn’t mean that I know what is going to happen in 10 years. I think maybe it has more to do with walking with God through it all. Less worrying about tomorrow, more living in today. Less heavy contemplation about small little things and more openness to things changing. Less focus on how to organize things so life goes “the right way” and more on how to listen and accept that the road isn’t a straight path forward.

When I am comfortable, that is when I ought to be the least comfortable. It is then when I am leaning less on God and more on myself.

 

Next Steps (John 21)

This last chapter is one of reconciliation and commission. In forgiveness, Peter is sent to take care of those whom Jesus loves. It is similar to our own salvation stories. As we are saved and pulled out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light, we too are commissioned to go and share the good news with others that we see. We aren’t supposed to worry about what all the other people are doing – God will continue to work in them as he has already planned in his great master plan. We are to do what we are called to do. Which is good, because if I start excessively worrying about other people I can barely finish what I’m doing myself.

Death, Resurrection, and Belief (John 19-20)

There are so many emotions as I read these two chapters. Sorrow and awe at the death of Jesus. John hasn’t used very many scriptures to prove Jesus’ authenticity (unlike Matthew), but he pulls them out here. It blows my mind every time that Jesus was able to think about other people and fulfilling things even when he was in what must have been excruciating pain.

Then we move into the resurrection and the joy and craziness that came with it. Jesus is alive! People are seeing him around places! I have to laugh at Thomas just from reading this account – he got what he asked for, but I’m not sure if I would have the guts to actually stick my hand into the holes. Seeing would be good enough for me.

I also like John’s random little blurb about how all these things don’t even scratch the surface of Jesus’ life, but that these ones were picked out to be written about so that we could believe.

Dedicate in Prayer (John 17-18)

And then Jesus dedicates those whom the Father has given to him back to the Father. Jesus prayed for those who did and would believe in him. I’m pretty sure I just read a prayer Jesus said for me.

I am kind of convicted in that I don’t pray as much as I ought to for those I come into contact with. For example, all the campers I’ve had over the years. I don’t pray for them very often, if at all, and I definitely didn’t dedicate them to the Lord as they left. How many people have I talked to for a while and then not prayed about afterwards? Wow.

I think I’m just going to leave this blog post there…I feel thought provoked enough for one day.

He has Overcome (John 15-16)

If I was a disciple at this point in time, I would have been confused. And possibly terrified. Here, the guy I’ve been following for 3 years, is telling me that the future is going to be horrible. It’s going to be full of persecutions, and it’s going to have sorrow. There will be people who literally hate me. BUT DON’T WORRY GUYS. There will be something I’m sending you that will help you, and it will all be worth it in the end.

I would really have to trust to be able to keep calm about that … but maybe it’s because I know what is going to happen next. I don’t always trust even in my life today. But I’m supposed to. I like to be liked by other people. I like happy endings and good feelings, but I’m not always going to have them. However, Jesus has overcome the world, so I can take heart (16:33). The trick is to remember this in the bad times and in the good times.

The Last Instructions (John 13-14)

I see the caring side of Jesus in these chapters. First off, he shows incredible humility in washing all the disciples feet – even that of Judas. He sets the example of serving one another and then instructs his disciples, and us by extension, to serve each other. These last commandments he is giving benefit our lives and relationships deeply.

Moving on, he continues to lovingly press his points. Love on another. Do not be troubled or afraid just because you don’t know where I’m going. And then he promises the Holy Spirit, a helper to be with them always.

Even though I’m pretty sure if I was Jesus I would have been freaking out right about now, he puts himself and his problems away, and instead cares for those who need his gentle reminders. Who else does that? The more John unfolds his story, the more appealing Jesus becomes. It literally is like he is the perfect person.

As a side note, sometimes I think the disciples are dumb. I mean, he said the one he gave the bread to would betray him. Duh?

Thoughts and Tangents (John 11-12)

I hope that I am able to have the faith of Martha. I get that everyone tells us to be Marys and learn how to sit and rest and stuff, but I would like to have a story like Martha who learns and grows in her faith over time. I would like to be able to grow to have faith to both believe and trust that God can do anything he pleases.

Point to ponder: technically the Pharisees were doing the will of God, even though they understood it to be something different. God uses everyone in his master plan, whether they know it or not.

Also, darn John and his non chronological order business.

It confuses me how people can choose to still look at the negative side of all of this. They want to kill Lazarus, they go run off and tattle to the Pharisees… He does his triumphal entry and all these signs, and they are hardened. Some believe, but some don’t. I guess that’s the way it is … but it just seems so odd at this point in the narrative for people to still be turning away from the one who came to save

Also also, another side rant, what is with this fear of the Jewish leaders business? I realize that they could exile you from your entire community and they had a huge amount of power and stuff … but like … come onnnn.

The Shepherd Messiah (John 9-10)

John is continually using these “light of the world” and “bread/water of life” references. He seems to be trying to make a point here…

The more Jesus does and says, as John forms his argument for Christ, there seems to be no real alternatives for who Jesus is. He keeps shutting down the demon concept, but he isn’t just a normal man either. I’m running out of alternatives that he could be other than the Son of God.

Also, I love the imagery of a shepherd taking care of his sheep (probably because I feel like sheep half the time, blindly blundering around not actually knowing where to go). How lucky that that I have a shepherd who calls out to me and leads me in the right direction! He knows us, and we know his voice, and “no one will snatch [us] from [his] hand.” (10:28).

Green Flags (John 7 and 8)

Jesus makes many claims in these chapters about being the Messiah/the Son of God. I can understand the confusion and frustration of the Pharisees. This guy came out of nowhere and is jeopardising the very things they held as truth. Yes, he did miracles, but he did not act like they thought he would outside of that. In fact, I don’t even know if I would have believed in Jesus if I hadn’t had the whole story, especially if I were a devout Jew. If someone told me I served the devil and that I wasn’t actually a child of Abraham, I would be rather upset. Plus, he’s causing discord among people! As a liker of rules and doing things the “right” way, I can definitely see the red flags they thought were being thrown up.

However, seeing the whole story, I can see that the red flags are actually green flags. In my own life, I often see red flags being thrown and get confused about what exactly is supposed to happen. I know that I don’t see the whole picture, so maybe I just need to relax and let God keep control and take some of the confusing things as green flags that are just bends in the road. If I really trust God with my life, then I should let him take me where he wants me to go. His plans are always beautiful when you look back on them.

Bread of Life (John 5-6)

Jesus talks a lot in these chapters, and about a lot of things. Today, though, the parts about being the bread of life stand out to me.

Something I’ve learned, being at camp, is that time in the presence of Jesus through reading or praying can literally make or break a day. I could tell when I was “hungry” from not spending time with him, and I’ve experienced the unexplainable peace and joy that can come from it. I wish I were better at applying that lesson more in my day to day life.

As Peter aptly says, “to whom shall we go?” (6:68). Where else can we go? There is nothing else that can satisfy like Christ can. It isn’t that life with Christ is without cares or problems, it is that we have one who will walk along side us and carry our burdens when we are too weak to carry on.