Jesus called the Twelve together and he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. He sent them out to proclaim God’s kingdom and to heal the sick. He told them, “Take nothing for the journey—no walking stick, no bag, no bread, no money, not even an extra shirt. Luke 9:1-3 (CEB)
Standing at the edge of the busy ice rink, I took a deep breath and looked down at my ten year old son who was clutching my arm. “Am I going first, or are you?” I asked.
“I don’t care,” he replied.
Prying his fingers away from my elbow, I eased him onto the ice. With the first break in traffic, I gave a gentle push. “Keep moving!” I cried, as he immediately started flailing and grabbing for the railing.
With a confidence that in no way matched my ability to skate, I followed my son onto the ice. Slowly, step by step, I shuffled forward. It wasn’t pretty. Picture an overgrown bird flapping around on a frozen pond and you’ll probably get the idea. However, I did manage to stay vertical and move forward. Regardless of the fact that five year olds were literally skating circles around me and I had no idea how to brake without slamming into someone, I found myself smiling and laughing. Out on the ice, with no skill or ability whatsoever, I felt pure unadulterated joy.
Finding joy in an activity you’re absolutely terrible at seems like a paradox. But, as I thought about it, I realized that my terribleness at skating was precisely the reason I liked it so much.
Like many people, I tend to live in a box of comfortable familiarity. While not routine-driven per se, I have daily habits I engage in, preferred routes I take to the same stores over and over again, favorite brands of food, clothes and products, a fairly specific worldview and a close inner circle of friends and family whose company I prefer over that of strangers.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things on the surface. Without them, our lives would probably dissolve into chaos. The problem comes when we choose the comfortable familiarity of our lives over the uncomfortable work Jesus might be calling us to do. Comfortable familiarity becomes a problem when we say to Jesus, “You know, that’s a great idea. But, I’m not really comfortable going to nursing homes, prisons, soup kitchens, preschools, hospitals or countries without running water.”
One of the hard truths of faith is that following Jesus is uncomfortable. Just ask the disciples.
When Jesus sends them out, he tells them to leave behind all of those things that would make them feel at home. No change of clothes, no money, no walking stick, no food, no suitcase. Jesus wants his followers to be totally dependent on him. And they can’t be totally dependent on him if they’re too comfortable with what they have.
I think the same is true in our own walk with Jesus. He wants us to be totally dependent on him. But, in order to be dependent on him, we have to allow ourselves to experience some discomfort. We have to stretch beyond the boundaries of our known abilities and understandings so that we can truly be the hands and feet of Christ that bring good news to a world clamoring for hope and peace.
This week, I would challenge you to ease yourself out of your world of comfortable familiarity by engaging in an activity that makes you a little uncomfortable. For some of you, that might be trying a new activity for which you have zero skills or training. For others, it might be having a conversation with someone who thinks a lot differently than you do. Whatever you choose to do, open yourself up to the opportunity and experience the joy and peace that comes when you let go of comfortable familiarity and step into something new.
Blessings and Peace,