There are areas of my life where I try to be honest with myself. I like Starbucks and I spend too much money there. I like napping on my couch and youtube. I like snacking by myself…on my couch…while watching youtube. These are things I find comfort in.
I enjoy comfortable settings. Though I myself am not great at interior decorating, I really appreciate when people create beautiful and peaceful spaces inside their homes. I notice and it makes me feel happy, more at home, and again…comfortable.
The people I most like to spend time with are people that know me really well. And people I can relate to on a deep level or have similar interests and passions. It’s easy to converse when I feel understood.
I guess what I’m saying is I value comfort. I know the conditions that bring me that feeling of happiness and contentment, and whether I’m always aware of it or not I find myself spending a good portion of my life pursuing that feeling.
But comfort and contentment doesn’t equal fulfillment. I’ve found it’s easy to be happy and enjoy life, while at the same time feeling hollow inside. And equally so it’s possible to feel deeply fulfilled, yet carry a mixed bag of emotions and struggles that definitely aren’t comfortable.
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This fall I’m moving to a conflict zone in the Middle East. I’ll be working as a nurse in a new clinic that is being established for local and displaced people (due to security reasons I’m not able to say where exactly I will be, but feel free to ask me in private or message me). I’m telling you about my addiction to comfort, so you know that I’m no different than you. My desire for comfort and intensity of love for my couch may even be stronger than yours. I’m also telling you this because it was one of the first realizations God had to awaken me to before my eyes could see the door He was opening to this place and people that his heart is broken for.
Like I said, I try to be self aware, and forthcoming about (*some of) my weaknesses. Because consciousness is the first step towards moving myself out of hypocrisy, where my stated values don’t align with my actions. But self-awareness only gets me so far, especially when a subconscious value is so deeply rooted inside me. I mean the kind of deeply rooted where I was making life decisions through the lens of comfort without even thinking about.
I enjoy adventure and spontaneity. Actually I need those things to really thrive. I’m also a passionate person, so I speak with intensity about injustice and the truths I believe God has shown me. So people, including myself at times, could look at my life and think I’m wired for taking risks and I’m totally unafraid to go wherever God would call me.
But I have been afraid, nervous about completely jumping in. My fears don’t have to do with death, but loneliness and unknowns. I’ve felt God beckoning me to “the hard places” for a long time. My heart trembling and overtaken with grief when I see the extreme suffering that is happening, specifically to children, all over the world. But I’ve looked away, pretending like I didn’t see Jesus motioning me to follow him.
The love story in Song of Solomon resembles my journey. In SOS 2:8-17 the bride’s Beloved comes to her and invites her to come away with him. He tells her now is the right time, it’s harvest time. He reminds her of their love and his desire for her to be with him. Though she loves him, she tells him to go on without her.
“Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, Turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on the cleft mountains.”
After this scene, the bride goes through a process with her beloved, one filled with trial and pain. But at the end of the story the bride is the one beckoning her Beloved to the fields. Her desires and her actions now fully match his. And she proclaims that she wishes all could see her love for him.
I’m not yet at the place where the bride is at the end of the story, but I’m hopeful that this is path Jesus has me on. And more than that I’m encouraged because I know my Beloved’s desire is for me and every step of the way his leadership is full of love. He sees me. He looks at my heart, sees my desire to live fully with Him, but also sees the barriers to me doing that, and He knows how to perfectly and gently remove those barriers. All in love.
If we love Jesus, we are all on this journey. He’s beckoning us, he’s beckoning you, to come with him to the fields. The battle fields, the harvest fields, he wants you to come and join him there. We are his chosen bride, we are dark (full of sin/compromise) but he sees past that, to our potential, and says we are lovely (SOS 1:5).
No Father would give his pride and joy, his perfect son, to be married to an unworthy bride, to be joined with a woman who didn’t love him in the same way he loves her, and who didn’t value or want the same things he does. Yet God the Father is willing to give Jesus, the most humble and righteous man, to us in marriage. We who are lovers of self, and pursuers of comfort and pleasure. But he’s also committed to making us worthy of Jesus. We can not make ourselves worthy of him. But we can take Jesus’ hand and go with him to the mountain of myrrh, the place of death. We can choose to trust his leadership and believe the best about him in times of trial and pain, because this is what he does for us.
Sometimes you can have both fulfillment and comfort. But you have to decide which are you committed to. I think God wants us to be happy. He’s a God of joy, but He has this all encompassing plan in the works, so the whole world can live in that place of joy and it’s a battle to get there. Will we join him? Will we trade our pleasure now for the reward of never ending joy in the age to come? We’re all invited to the battlefield with him. Maybe it’s Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Chicago, the Red-light district, or so many other places that are in need of the perfect love, justice and mercy of Jesus. He wants us there, we aren’t some damsel in distress bride. We are his chosen battle companion.
One final thought
There is so much injustice and suffering happening right now in the Middle East and North Africa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed because there is so much need and you don’t know where you are “called,” I’m inviting you to come with me. Seriously, contact me and I can help get you connected. The time for lone heroes of the faith being sent out to nations alone, never to return, was amazing and inspiring; but now is the time for a nameless, faceless generation of lovers to arise and storm the gates of hell together.