I heard something arresting a few weeks ago.
The subject being addressed* was growth. That growth is usually uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, and that when it comes with its worst, brings grief. That, inescapably as long as we are living, we will face growth, by virtue simply of being alive, as it is living things that grow, and thus by necessity need to choose how to receive it. Denial was described. Resistance to growth. Seeing it in others, but not yet acknowledging or welcoming it in ourselves. Then there’s the choice to willingly experience it—in Christ. For Christ’s purposes.
Now, you will not hear me say with some that, blanketly, “Change is good.” Well, neither do I think Change Is Always Bad. I do think it depends on the Change. From what to what? And for what reason? Change came to mind when I heard this arresting statement, because I know growth inherently signifies change.
This is what I heard that arrested my whole attention:
Follow your discomfort: God’s invitation is in it, inevitably.
I began reviewing my ways. This is not an unfamiliar set of thoughts for me. I actually by practice seek growth. I ask God where he wants me in a particular circumstance. I experience internal changes drawing me gradually toward Christ. This statement might not have been startling for me.
Except for those times when I approach tolerance-exhaustion in one or another area. I pull back; I fear; I worry; I begin entertaining ways to avoid, or self-protect. I morph back to resemble that one who was “without God and without hope in the world.” In a nano-instant I have embarked on what another friend calls a False Narrative. Underlying it, I am in reality fearing the threat of bearing a significant loss weakened and alone, as if I were abandoned. At those times I have begun thinking without God.
When I catch myself (or rather God has caught me in His arms) and stop dead in my self-propelled steps, I get an inkling that I am preposterously raising Deal-Breakers to God: as if to say to Him “I was willing with that and with those, but not this, Lord. I will not do this. “ Serious moments later, seeing what I’ve begun to do, (note the word “will” in that last expression) I reposition myself in Him. Talk it through with me, Lord, show me Your Way. I had forgotten that You are always with me and will bring me through. Worry is an old habit from my former life that I want to be rid of. Assist me to trust you.
It is these moments that need the added armament of
“Follow your discomfort; God’s invitation is in it, inevitably. “
Yes, this discomfort, too, of hurting with family members suffering dark days, and not knowing how to comfort, of this sudden loss of a former church and its elongated tangle of grief , of these disorienting, terrifying shifts in surrounding culture, of seeking yet another unfamiliar gathering of Christ-followers, not knowing if I will find community, or bless them .
To recall that God’s invitation is in my discomfort. For His reasons. For my growth in Christ, for my good, for the good of other human beings, for the bringing of His Kingdom. That God cares so much for me that He will purposefully lead me to and through discomfort or worse. That God will see to the growth and the purpose; I need only ask of Him what His invitation is in this situation. I need only follow Him into it –any of it–and watch for Him, listen for Him.
As He continues to renew my mind in Christ, and shape me into the worshipper that He desires.
How are you doing in following your God-provided discomfort?
*Subject addressed by Pastor Chris Bannon, The Commons Church, Rochester, New Hampshire