Can’t See the Horizon for the Clouds

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Ann Voskamp spoke into my life this morning.  I’m not surprised.  She seems to always show up when I’m struggling.

I hear it on Sunday, thinking our preacher’s looking straight at me, me trying to look away:

“When God moves us out of our comfort zone – into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful, places that even hurt – this is a gift.

We are being given a gift.

These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.”

Where’s the back door of the chapel? I’d like out.

I laughed out loud because I know that feeling.  I feel that feeling.  God is refining me, and I want out.  I look for the escape hatch, and I realize I’m on a dadgum submarine.  Which leads to the next part:

I had mouthed it to the ceiling, a murmur looking up, trying to keep it all from spilling.  How did I get here?

How did I get here? How many times a day do I look up at the sky and say that?  Bow my head in prayer while thinking that?  Look across the dinner table at my husband and ask that?  And then I feel so guilty because here is not bad.  Here is a little difficult, a little frustrating.  It’s not truly hard.  How selfish am I that when there is so much hurt in the world, I am simply longing for a settled home and an easier life.

Other people are fighting for their basic human rights, and my heart desires are so First World.  I long to look at a different ocean.  A river surrounded by trees.  A shady playground.  A nicer car.  A meal at any number of my favorite restaurants in Norfolk.  Dare I say it? A Trader Joes.  I don’t want to spend my free time learning Spanish and trying to figure out the logistics of getting groceries or picking up my mail.

And still…the guilt.  I tell my friends who apologize for their troubles not being as bad as others that the fact that other people suffer more does not change the struggle you are standing in right now.  The fact that it is a thunderstorm and not a hurricane does not change how frightened you are by the wind.  That tree outside your window looks like it might bend and break.  It doesn’t know this wind isn’t hurricane force; it only knows that it’s limits are being tested.  And here is where Ann really drove it home for me.

He keeps whispering it to my trembling heart, to me who knows and then forgets: Those who fully live, who live ecstatic lives of joy, embrace moving out of comfort zones.  Ecstatic joy is found outside of static comfort zones.

It took seven paragraphs to get from “How’d I get here?” to “Ecstatic joy is found outside of static comfort zones.”  Seven paragraphs where I stopped frequently to ponder my heart’s desires and then struggle with the subsequent guilt.  What does my heart really want?  These words might cause a shift.  Do I want to be the frog in the pot who slowly boils alive in his comfort?  Or do I want embrace moving out of my comfort zone?   God hasn’t really given me a choice.  He’s put me on this submarine with no escape hatch.  The question is will I thank Him for moving me out of my comfort zone and seek to live the life that he has given me, or will I sit here and long for the tepid water of the slow boiling pot?

(All quotes taken from One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp.)

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