I think I might have mentioned in my last blog that my next one was going to be an account of my life as a Christian. A “testimony” as we Christians call it. But I’ve sat down to write it several times now and I just don’t feel like it’s supposed to come out yet. So for now, onto another subject…
“Comfort”. In my experience in Christian circles, this word is cliché. It’s cliché in that we’re taught that comfort isn’t what we’re called to. This cliché, however, is one that I feel like we as Christians ought to pay close attention to because, odds are, as with every cliché, there’s an element of truth. What does my life look like right now as a Christian living in the western world? As a Christian living in Canada? In my province? In my city or town? And, more uniquely for me, in a Bible belt? Would “comfortable” be a good word to use to describe my life? And is this what God is calling me to?
I realized last fall upon talking with a friend that I’ve been living in my town for 20 years now. This might not seem like a big deal for many, but this thought has actually been of some consequence to me so far. I know that it’s partly because I’ve never been able to attach that increment to anything in my life as I’m 29, so it’s partly just some kind of psychological rite of passage. It did get me thinking though of what it’s been like for me to live where I live. 20 years. 20 years already?! In Abbotsford. When I reflect on those 20 years, what’s happened? What have been the highs and lows? But more significantly for me- what has been the overarching sense of how my life has been?
This has made me uncomfortable.
Now it seems to me like in our culture, as soon as someone questions their creature comforts, some people blame “fundamentalist ideas” of how to live a proper life and call it unfair placement of guilt. “Of course she feels guilty. She’s a Christian.” That’s another discussion, but I will say for the purposes of this blog that my discomfort was neither some sort of misguided idea of what’s right and wrong nor self-imposed guilt. Right away there was a kind of depth to this discomfort that I felt. It was a healthy discomfort. And I absolutely believe that it’s my faith progressively settling in as I realize more and more that I ought to follow God, not the other way around. In addition, over the past 4 years or so, God has been revealing to me that I’ve lived the vast majority of my life in fear as well as comfort. Now that seems like a contradiction in terms but the fear I felt was fear of man- what people think of me, how they perceive my actions, and how they’d react if I truly spoke Christ’s words to them. I haven’t really been challenged in that area of my life very much, and this feeling of discomfort about that fact that I’d now acquired wasn’t going away.
In addition to starting to read more since then and starting to be more deliberate, practicing living out my faith, a few short months later I learned that my young adults group at my church was planning a missions trip to Thailand. Now I’ve been a Christian for about 23 years. In that time I have honest-to-goodness never felt called to go overseas on a missions trip. I have never, ever felt it. I’ve always discerned my callings to be more within Christian circles or with my non-Christian friends in and around where I live. I’ve prayed about going overseas or even to the US when the opportunities have shown themselves, but sincerely never felt like I was meant to go. You can imagine my bewilderment, then, when I found myself holding a clipboard and signing my name to get more information about this one. “Really, God? ….seriously? Wait, is this me or you? Why am I even holding this pen? Why am I sitting in this group discussing the itinerary?” Now, months later, the whole idea is perplexing even still to a degree, but I emailed in my application a week ago and am now waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted.
I hit “send” on that email feeling like God was at work in all of this. I don’t know what His plan is, and I may still not even get accepted to that team. He might have something completely different in store for me in the coming months. But I prayed for some kind of clue as to what this was all about, even what the last 4 years of realizations and revelations were all about, because as strange as it is for some to understand, it’s the wildest thing to be able to feel moment by moment that the Holy Spirit is doing something in you. It’s like you’re being readied for something. It’s the preparation before the adventure that you can feel you’re about to embark on. You know you’re going to be stretched past what you thought was your breaking point. You can only imagine how difficult it will be. You’re a bit afraid of it, but you know you won’t be the same after and you know that that’s going to be good. You might come out the other end a very changed person. It’s thrilling and terrifying all at once.
You know you’ll be uncomfortable.
I did have some encounters in the following days that may be the clues that I was praying for, but I’m going to save those for the next blog entry. As always, God is faithful.
For the moment, thanks for taking the time to read this and may God challenge and bless you on your journey today. See you next blog.