Today I want to tell you a story. Well, really I want to tell you two stories… one my own and another God’s. Today I will will spend some time on my own and then I hope tomorrow you will check back in for the best part, God’s Story. My prayer is that both of these stories will help us see ourselves and where we are in a new or different way so that we can truly enjoy all that the Lord has for us. So let’s start here…
Once upon a time… because all good stories begin with “once upon a time”. Right?
There was a girl (yep… me) who had just walked through an extremely hard, painful, and draining season. When I say draining, I am referring to every aspect of my being… emotional, mental, physical, relational and even spiritual. I needed rest. I longed for rest… rest, comfort and protection.
Enter my comfy chair. This chair was the place I sat for my quiet times and in this season, it was a physical resting place as well as a spiritual resting place. So needed… so easy. In this chair I read His Word. I prayed. I chatted with friends. I lived with my family. From this chair, I would step cautiously into life around me. Never to far away though and never for too long. I eventually mastered the “art” of doing life and still maintain the “comfy chair life”. The chair became less a physical place as it was a mental, emotional, and spiritual place. It was living life in a way that was comfortable, familiar, and in such as way as to not require too much courage or faith. I can look back now and see that it was a place in which I could “do life” in my own strength. I needed the comfy chair life… the comfort… all that was safe and familiar. At least I believed that was what I NEEDED. My comfy chair was not where bad things occurred (except maybe the partaking of a little too much ice cream). It was a safe place… an easy place. I was willing to stay there in order to avoid being hurt and drained again. It was a place where I was safe from the fiery arrows of the enemy.
So in this comfy chair I sat and rested and healed and rested. Then I sat and sat and sat.
Can you see where I am going with this? Psalm 23 says “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. We will walk through hard season and the shadows they cast over the days following. Rest is needed! However, that passage does not tell us to stay in that valley… pull up a chair and sit and sit and sit.
I was stuck and, in all honesty, I had no idea. That is the thing about our comfy chairs. They are just that: comfortable. You see I was still engaged in life…comfortable life, safe life. Remember, while I was here I still did life. I was a wife. I maintained our house… to the degree that is normal for our then full and active household. Laundry was then and always will be an issue… with or without the comfy chair. I “mommied” (through a deployment, I would add). I went to chapel & was involved in ministry. I was busy but I was still in my “comfy chair”. If you saw me, you may not have known I was sitting in it by simply looking on the outside. I was, however, “sitting” all the same. Again, this was not a bad place. It was just not the place the Lord desired me to stay. He desired more! He was calling me to more.
At some point I knew he was calling. I could feel His nudging. I could hear Him speaking to my heart through His Word. I knew and yet I stayed. You see there were reasons I needed the comfy chair.There were reasons I needed to rest and heal and there were reason I stayed. The biggest reason being safety. Comfortable is safe, right? So despite His nudging and despite His whispers (and at times grand proclamations) to get up and move. I stayed. As I sat… a web of subtle lies began to form around me. Lies that told me why I needed to stay even when the Lord desired me to move. Lies that were logical. Lies that we justifiable. Lies that spoke to my emotions. Lies that sounded “good”. Lies that were not from the Lord. Lies that tied me to the chair and had me trapped. I was “comfortable” (or so I thought) but I was trapped all the same. In the midst of the self perceived and self maintained comfort, there was a restlessness of emotions and spirit… of mind and heart. I was comfortable yet deep inside discontent. My perception of all around me was not quite right. It was off in how I both received the things around me and how I responded. All clues that I had moved from a time of healing, rest and comfort to comfortable disobedience. I was stuck and had been for a while.
But then God….
This was not a quick journey for me. I stubbornly sat in my comfy chair for over 2 years. Remember, at first it was needed and purposeful. Only later did it shift to an excuse and then an act of disobedience.
I am thankful that even in the “comfy chair” I was still connected to Him. I was reading my Bible (some weeks with more consistently than others). I was still praying, I was still in relationship with friends who encouraged me and spoke truth to me. I was still in chapel and Bible Study. All are good things. All are important things! ALL key to getting out of the chair.
I remember the day vividly…. The day I finally heard Him. There was no mistaking it…
“Awake oh sleeper, rise up….” (Eph 5:14)
“If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river…” (Isaiah 48:18)
These are the words, His Word, that He used to open my eyes to what HE desired vs. what I thought was best (or easiest, or safest, or most reasonable, etc…) I was awake! I was aware! Now what? Now it was time to move… take a step… respond!
It was time to get out of the comfy chair! It was time for me to MOVE…
If I had to guess, we all struggle with the “comfy chair” in one way or another or at one time or another. Our situations, reasons, and what our chairs look and feel like may differ. My being stuck in the comfy chair would be like making the decision to wear a big comfy sweatshirt, leggings, and my hair in a messy bun to an event where my husband would be wearing His dress blues -OR- choosing to stay in my comfy chair eating ice cream when I had a seat of honor at a banquet table filled with the yummiest of foods. (Which could, of course, all be consumed without worry of the calories!) At some point we all come to this moment where we have to decide: Do we stay where we feel safe & comfortable or do we step out in obedience to what He has for us? Sometimes the step is big. Sometimes it is small… all the time it is a step of faith.
And now God’s Story…
*Adapted from a talk shared at Ft Leavenworth PWOC Spring 2018