God is a God of expansion. Not nesting. Take Noah and his family, for example. Shortly after they disembarked from the ark’s close quarters, they were instructed to spread out and to replenish the earth. If I had been cooped up with bellowing animals and female hormones in a sea-swaying boat for days on end, I would have sprinted far away as soon as my land legs quit quivering beneath me. That is, if I were not such a nester. Apparently, however, Noah’s family felt disinclined to follow the mandate. Instead, their descendants clustered together. They settled the same area, and, as a result, settled for a spiritual shortchange.
Unwilling to disperse, these descendants lacked the benefits of diversity. They were the same. One way of thinking. One language. One very wrong, limited view of God. With the single conclusion that they could obtain the spiritual through man-made efforts, they set out to build the tower of Babel. They assumed they could touch heaven in spite of their disobedience. Instead of going outward and onward as God instructed, they attempted to go upward in their own strength.
God disrupted those plans, and with the passage of time, dispersed the people. From these spread-out developing cultures, God chose a man named Abraham to be his friend and follower. What an honor! But, Abraham, also, was given a challenge to separate himself from the life he had known in order to be receive the promise God had for him. A move was necessary to accommodate the expanding relationship.
This requirement is consistent with the way God operates. It’s a requirement that is difficult for me to swallow. Like the Babel builders, I like the comfort of surrounding myself with like-minded thinkers—those who will come alongside my carnal efforts to obtain that which can only be gained through SPIRITUAL obedience. It’s uncomfortable to be challenged by those who live outside of my comfort zone, uncomfortable to have someone who’s progressed spiritually point out my spiritual weakness--like my need to fast and pray about something instead of complaining about it. Comfort prefers a pity party…something that doesn’t require effort or demand that I change.
While I long for MORE of God, GREATER experiences with him, and GROWTH in the Kingdom, my attitude often says that I’d like God to expand my territory without my ever having to budge. I’d like it if God visited me where I am and, miraculously, without the discomfort of change, make things better. But better is a step up from GOOD, and stepping requires movement. Growth demands that I change. Settling in the land of self-comfort has no part in expansion.
To receive the blessing that we want from God, we have to move away from the known. Away from the way everyone else is thinking and speaking. Away from common, acceptable spiritual practices. This separation enables consecration, which makes room for more of God. The new cannot come without our releasing the old. We can’t have the best while clinging to the good. We can’t enjoy the vastness of God cloistered in a huddle of human dictates. And we can’t enjoy the thrill of grand, unfolding promises sheltered within a habitation of self-preservation.
Just as it was with Noah’s descendants at the Tower of Babel, our real hindrance isn’t just a desire for comfort. It is choosing feelings over faith. Comfort resists faith. Immobility, resists faith. Faith can only be exercised in the uncomfortable. In the unknown. Beyond the parameters dictated fear. Faith requires fluidity, the choice to embrace motion--like Abraham did when he traded a stone hearth for tent pegs and a promise. Faith, unlike flesh, is confident in the uncomfortable. It is courageous away from the affirming crowd. It celebrates the change that answers God’s call. Faith doesn’t mope because of focus on negative feelings. It stretches its wings and catches the wind of the Spirit, leaving behind the restrictions of the nest to soar.
Tip/Tidbit: What comfort zones might God be urging you to step away from? What change is faith prompting your to make?