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Expect growing pains in journey of faith

I prefer to be comfortable.

By that I mean I prefer not to be in unfamiliar places, or in circumstances for which my experience and abilities are insufficient.

At this writing, though, I am preparing to be uncomfortable.

Soon, I depart for New Delhi with a team of fellow Christians, each of us with a strong sense of calling to bring Christ’s message of hope and salvation to the people of northern India.

And it is precisely this sense of calling which trumps our natural aversion to being taken outside the comfort and familiarity of our daily routines.

What on earth does this have to do with you?

Well, I imagine you at times find yourself in circumstances that are unfamiliar, unexpected. Like me, you may shrink back a bit when your experience and natural abilities seem overwhelmed by the challenges of life.

And we do well to remember it is precisely at these times that God is growing our faith. He uses the soil of the unfamiliar, the unexpected, to grow our faith in him and diminish our tendency to rely on our own strength.

Jesus put it this way to his disciples: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 – NKJV)

Think about that: Without relying upon the grace and power of Christ, we’re utterly incapable of pleasing God.

And that ultimately is the aim of every Christian – not merely to survive, but to live our lives, trials and all, in a way that brings God glory.

By now, you may have on your mind some challenge you are facing. Perhaps you are out of work, and the bills are mounting.

Some of you, I know, are discouraged by having lost someone dear to you. That sense of loss is even more acute this time of year. Still others long for loved ones to return from our wars across the globe.

Whatever the burden you’re facing, be certain that God’s desire is to increase your trust in him: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 – NKJV)

It’s occurred to me that my preference for being comfortable actually hinders the growth of my faith. Yours, too, frankly.

Unlike the people I am soon to meet in India’s slums and leper colonies, you and I have the ability to live with a delusion of self-sufficiency. In other words, we can speak much of faith, while at the same time order our lives so that we don’t really live by faith at all.

Did that strike a nerve?

Unless we are routinely allowing God to take us outside of our places of comfort, can we really say that we’re depending upon him, trusting in his enablement, relying on his strength?

Christian friend, it is during the uncomfortable times of life that we must remember our calling. As the Apostle Paul explains it, we are “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20 – NKJV)

Our calling is much larger than merely making ourselves comfortable in this world. Our calling is to represent our loving God, pleading with others to be reconciled to him through faith in Jesus Christ.

There’s no need to travel far to carry out this calling; it awaits us in our homes, our neighborhoods, our office buildings and factories.

We wince sometimes at the discomfort wrought by this calling.

Could it be that a life of faith actually requires discomfort?

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church in Hayden, Idaho ( www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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