Valuing Comfort over Effort

chairContinued from here.

Considering God commands us to make significant changes to our self-centered lives and transform into people who prioritize God and others, why are we so reluctant to put forth effort to obey Him? I see two primary reasons, but I’m sure there are others.

The first reason is that we value comfort. Our sinful nature makes it comfortable to be self-absorbed. Obeying God requires us to move outside our comfort zone. In other words, obeying God means choosing discomfort repeatedly, and who wants to experience discomfort?

Being Jesus’ disciple is like training for a marathon. We don’t get to sit around watching television and eating chips. We must train as we let go of the comfort of eating chips and experience the discomfort of eating kale. We must let go of the comfort of lounging around and replace that with pushing our bodies as hard as we can. We must give up the short-term pleasure of doing what feels good in the moment and experience a season of discomfort to experience the long-term joy of the results of our training. To do this, we must value where we are going over where we are now.

Our culture does not encourage delayed gratification. We want everything NOW! We are an impatient culture that expects everything instantly. And yet, how much do we value all we receive instantly? Microwave meals don’t taste as good as meals that are slow-cooked. Instant messaging has enabled us to respond immediately in anger whereas snail mail gives you time to cool off before the mailman arrives to deliver your letter.

Things of true value – of lasting value – are worth the effort and wait, such as the nine months of morning sickness and other physical challenges as a woman awaits the birth of her baby. What we work toward and wait for is of much greater value to us than something that we invested no effort to receive.

It’s time to stop lounging around on the coach waiting for God to drop blessings on us. Spiritual growth requires effort. It requires us to step out of our comfort zones and train to be like Jesus. It requires us to be willing to undergo a season of hard work and effort with little to show for it, only the hope that the payoff will be worth it. I speak from experience – IT IS!

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sitting in a recliner holding a remote control. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Choosing Discomfort

life_is_hardContinued from here.

Part of the human condition is a strong disposition toward being comfortable, and I am no exception. In my flesh, I will always choose what is most comfortable for myself, and then once I find it, I don’t want to leave. In my flesh, I would be perfectly happy to spend the rest of my life lying in a hammock on a beach, savoring my own comfort and ignoring the pain of other people.

Since I made the choice to follow God no matter what, comfort has become a thing of the past. Someone called into the Christian radio station KLOVE with the following quote:

There’s no growth in a comfort zone … and no comfort in a growth zone.

My flesh’s inclination toward comfort lulls me to sleep to God’s ways and priorities and keeps me self-focused. God is always moving as He reaches out to the lost, but I won’t be a part of His activity if I’m enjoying the comfort of my beachside hammock. So, since my relationship with God has deepened, I have entered into a life of discomfort, which has been hard for my flesh. Whenever I break eye contact with God, I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself because my flesh screams that it deserves comfort.

However, my continual discomfort leads to growth, which feeds my spirit, making my life so much easier as I participate in God’s activity around me. My spirit is empowered each time I defer my preferences for someone who is being unpleasant. I have repeated opportunities to grow my patience and perseverance. Then, when I’m with a group that is being inconvenienced, I’m the one who is relaxed and “going with the flow” while others are expressing outrage in their misery. It’s not that I am a “better person” – I’m not. Instead, because I have grown through much experience of discomfort, I have learned how to tap into God’s joy and peace in those situations so that they don’t bother me like they used to. This makes me more pleasant to be around and causes people to ask how I could remain joyful in an uncomfortable situation, which invites a conversation about God.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on a coach with her hand on her, dramatically saying, “Life is hard.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]