Are You Willing To Leave The Neighborhood?
I find myself using that phrase a lot lately. Perhaps it’s a season in which I need to remember to focus on what I can control and release what I can’t.
The complete phrase is “Work hard and trust God for the results.” What I CAN control is my effort. I’m convinced God wants me to do my part. According to an adage: God feeds the birds but He rarely tosses food into the nest.
It’s so easy to find a cozy neighborhood and operate there until you forget there’s a world outside its boundaries. “Doing the best I can” within that familiar neighborhood might be comfortable, but it’s not doing everything I can.
When Jesus invites me to follow Him. I’m pretty sure He wants ALL-IN, not all-in–as-long-as-it’s-safe-and-comfortable. I wonder how often I ask God for outside-the-box results when I’m unwilling to put even a toe outside my own comfort zone. In that case, “trust God” really becomes a nice excuse for “I don’t want to make the effort or take the risk.”
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord? (Isaiah 58:5)
The prophet admonishes people who fast on their own terms, within their comfort zone. He defines the nature of a true fast.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Following God-sized dreams isn’t comfortable. Walking with hurting, marginalized folks lost in the fog isn’t comfortable.
Leaving heaven, becoming human, dying on a cross—those weren’t comfortable, either.
When I really consider it, most of the stuff that really matters is uncomfortable and risky. We water it down and slap on layers of suburban security until well-intentioned mission trips look more like low-budget working vacations. Might be the best I can do—reasonably comfortably—but is it really ALL I can do?
Am I willing to follow Jesus beyond the boundaries of my safe, familiar, comfortable neighborhood in an attempt to do all I can do?
If not, all those worship songs start sounding sort of empty.
Please leave a comment here.