Seven hours down, two to go.
That’s what I was telling myself as I sped down the interstate, heading toward my relatives’ place in East Texas for the holidays. All in all, I’d done well, considering I’d driven the entire way. I was even feeling a second burst of energy by this point – which was great because it is no small thing to drive seven hours straight with a 16 and 12-year-old. And perfect timing, because my favorite part of this nine-hour drive was coming up soon…
Now, If you’ve traveled this stretch of interstate before, you probably know the place – it’s called Texarkana – a small town right on the border of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana (hence the name), nestled along I-30, and with each mile, I could feel my excitement growing.
Why, you ask, is Texarkana my favorite point along this route? It’s because this is where the speed limit changes to 75 MPH!
Let me explain. I live in the south, and southern states are not quite as liberal with their speed limits as the good folks in Texas, Oklahoma, and several other states further west. Judge me if you will, but I’ve seen that 70 MPH speed limit for the last seven hours – and when I see that beautiful sign, proudly displaying 75 MPH standing tall to the right of the highway, I want to burst into applause!
Seriously, can we just pause for a moment of silence to thank Texas?
*insert moment of silence here*
It’s amazing to have a higher speed limit, because who wants to be confined to driving 70 MPH anyway? Now, I get to go FASTER!
Well…I should say even faster, because (full disclosure here): I was never actually obeying the speed limit before. But never mind about that.
Yeah…never mind about that.
Wrong. Because that was the moment that I actually looked down at my speedometer. That was also the moment the Spirit began to really convict me. Not only about my speed (although, I was convicted about that…), but more importantly about my heart.
You see, when I looked down at my speedometer, I suddenly realized something: I’m driving the same speed I’ve been driving the entire trip.
Crazy, right? I cross the state line, the speed limit increases – but I’m still driving about the same speed?! Bear in mind, I’d been looking forward to getting to the higher speed limit because it would allow me to drive faster. But, as I pondered a moment more, understanding began to settle in, and the Spirit revealed the motivations beneath the actions and the greater implications to my heart and life.
Now, I know you’re probably saying, “It’s just the speed limit – it’s not that deep”. And if it had only been about the speed limit, I might have been inclined to agree with you, but keep tracking with me for a moment.
The truth of the matter is, from the start I was already driving at the speed that was comfortable for me.
Comfortable for me.
(And yes, it was a good deal faster than 70 MPH, if you must know).
When the speed limit changed to 75 MPH, since I’d been already driving based on my comfort level and not based on any adherence to the law, I didn’t experience much change at all.
Well, someone might think that’s a good thing. If I’m no longer speeding, then I’m now obeying the law, right? But alas, no! Believe me, what governed my actions was not the Law of Texas – it was the Law of Comfort (which can also be called The Law of ME.)
And isn’t that the same way we often approach life – and God? Many times, as Christians, we want the speed limit of God’s Word to change. Our pace is not governed by our desire to please God. No, our flesh is driving our life and decisions, and we want to justify what we are ALREADY comfortable doing.
Simply put, we don’t want to change!
Well, how bad is it, really? What are the dangers of living life in the “Comfort Zone”?
Glad you asked. Here are a few that I discovered. If you are driving through life, at the speed of “comfort”, beware of these dangers.
Danger #1: The Danger of Self-Deception
When we look to ourselves and the world to justify what our hearts have already determined to do, we have stopped listening to the Holy Spirit, our helper and teacher. Jesus promised that part of the work of the Spirit would be to convict the world of sin (John 16:8). But we can resist His influence in our lives, grieving Him (Eph. 4:30). We can essentially reject the truth!
The result: Self-deception, a very dangerous state where we strongly believe something as true that is not. We believe we are right when we are actually wrong. Jesus put it this way: “…And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matt. 6:22b). We cannot see ourselves as we truly are, and change becomes almost impossible. This is the end result of being ruled by what is comfortable for us, instead of a heart surrendered to God – and it is dangerous, indeed.
Danger #2: We do not experience transformation
Remember science class? Newton’s first law of motion, also known as the law of inertia, tells us that objects at rest tend to stay at rest. This is the very nature of comfort: rest, inertia, relaxation, and familiarity. And everything about transformation upsets everything about comfort. When our comfort is our guide, the Spirit cannot regenerate us from within. Fleshly satisfaction does not yield itself to spiritual transformation. Romans 8:6 reminds us of this: “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”
Transformation is, in fact, the antithesis of comfort. If you’ve ever tried to transform or change anything, including yourself, you know this to be true. A person who is not a morning person confronts this every time they determine to wake up earlier (I have a little experience with this…). The alarm clock goes off, you know you should get out of bed, but suddenly you’re in the most comfortable position getting the most amazing sleep of your entire life…The rest is history, and you usually end up waking up much later than planned, vowing to definitely do better tomorrow.
Ten years later, you’re still working at it.
(You know, I once saw a TV show about an extremely obese person who continued to gain weight over the years and eventually never got out of her bed. She laid in comfort so long, she actually had to be CUT out of the room because she was stuck.)
Are you stuck?
Until we overcome spiritual inertia, we remain stuck and cannot experience transformation any more than the person who 10 years later hasn’t been able to move past oversleeping. We run the risk of never accomplishing God’s purpose.
But there is an even greater danger, yet.
Danger #3: Your comfort can kill you.
Yes, kill you. I know, hard to believe – especially given how good it feels to be comfortable (see Danger #2, particularly the part about getting out of the bed…). But the truth is that Comfort is a liar. The flesh is deceiving. And the end is death.
I can remember a few years back when a friend of mine attended Driving School as the result of a seat belt ticket. It was a life-changing experience for him, and he left determined to change his driving habits. What changed his mind? There was a reason he didn’t like to wear seat belts in the first place: they are uncomfortable! But driving school unmasked the lies that Comfort told. My friend saw the images of car accidents, babies that lost their lives due to improper car seats and poor adherence to the law, along with other horrendous traffic accidents. He realized that the laws are intended for our protection.
And it’s the same with our Father. When we do not surrender our wills to the One whose ways are for our GOOD, we endanger our own safety!
So, what comfort are you wrestling with?
Maybe it’s the comfort of oversleeping, instead of seeking God early in the morning…
Maybe it’s the fleeting comfort of overindulgence in food, shopping, social media, gossip, and other time stealers that eat up your witness, your best years and your productivity…
Maybe the approval of certain people has kept you comfortable, while also keeping you stagnant, and out of the purpose and plan of God…
Wake up! It’s not trying to cripple you, girl – It’s trying to KILL you!
So, What’s a girl to do?
Don’t sleep! Take that literally, if it applies. As 2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “we are not ignorant of Satan’s evil schemes”. Satan is the old thief. Comfort is his device. He’s the thief of your time, your purpose, your life, and ultimately your soul.
Surrender, Girl! Here’s how:
1. Allow the Spirit and the Word to work in you. Submit to the Spirit of God and the Word of God. He will reveal what really lies in your heart. (see Hebrews 4:12)
2. Confess shortcomings, areas of weakness, and yes, flat out sin. Nowadays, we tend to prefer to call sin by more palatable words like “struggles” and “issues”, but you must be completely humble before God can heal you – and admitting areas of sin are an important part of that. There can be no repentance when a rebellious spirit will not allow us to admit our own sin. I do not mean we are to be perpetually condemned by our sin, but “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1John 1:8)
3. Move! The fix for Comfort (rest) is to MOVE (action)!
James 4:7-10 makes it plain: “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinner; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”
Note the action words in that passage. We must DO our part, then God does His. And He is faithful!
My prayer for you today is that you not to be seduced by the lies of Comfort. Submit to God. Get in your purpose.