When winter comes, I have a love-hate relationship with the indoors. Baby it’s cold outside. But I know that if I sit around the fireplace too long, claustrophobia will set in.
God had to call me out from the comfort of a world I could control before I could hear his call to walk in the mystery of sonship.
I spent five years dying before I began to learn how to live. I was fired from the organization I helped start, Karen was pregnant with Leah, and we had no insurance.
I could have missed the plot and seen myself as a victim. But God was taking me through a process as old as mankind. It began with Adam having to leave a place of comfort – out of the garden.
We need it
It’s a process that’s universal. Every adolescent boy needs to be initiated from the carefree world of childhood into the rough-and-tumble world of men. They have to go out to go in. One reason for our current crisis of masculinity is our fear of the pain of initiation.
We need to leave the place of comfort and join God on a journey. We need a shift of relationships, a shift of perceptions, a shift of loyalties. It doesn’t happen naturally; it has to be forced. The red pill has to be swallowed, the pain of transformation endured.
Boys love the comfort of a mother, but as they get older, their development requires proximity to the hard edges of a father if ever they are to venture out into the dangerous places that need their courage.
This tension begins with God the Father; it’s a gift that he gives to his children. God is an inside guy who lives in the wild places outside. Inside his kingdom is life everlasting. There’s a perpetual party going on just inside the gates.
An invitation to join him
He has extended us an invitation to join him inside. It’s a place of celebration and comfort (check out Matt. 22
). We get to hang out with the poor in spirit there – those shunted to the side by a society that is moving too fast.
The problem is that you have to leave your place to get to his. And that’s dangerous. Leaving the place of comfort for an unknown land feels dangerous. But, if we are to be made dangerous to the enemy, we must experience danger.
Like the children of Israel, you have to go out to go in.
Whenever God has looked for a leader to bring his people back, he always takes that leader out before he brings him in.
Abraham had to go out from Ur.
Moses spent the best years of his life in the wilderness.
Joseph had to go out from his family.
Paul had to go out to Arabia.
Even Jesus had to go out, leaving his father’s side to bring us in.
When Jesus wanted to bring his disciples in, he had to call them out.
And always when he ran across someone who wanted to know the price of admission to come in, Jesus’ response was that they had to go out to go in. The rich young ruler had to sell his belongings and leave his easy lifestyle. Whatever the things that represented a current comfort zone, they had to stay behind.
Too much comfort is dangerous
We live in a nation of uninitiated Christians raised in a land of comfort. “Let me go and bury my father,” we say. “Let me be a revolutionary on the cheap. Let me keep a foot in both camps.”
But Jesus didn’t give margin for that. Too much comfort is dangerous. He left the bet-hedgers and half-steppers behind. His method was to kill your old self before he gave you a new self. Death had to come before life.
There’s no reversing the order, no escaping the desert. The ego props and security blankets have to go. Part way out is not an option. “Put off the old self,” we’re told.
The old self carries with it the baggage of limited resources, limited possibilities, and a limited worldview.
To enter an expansive place like that you’ve got to leave the land of small closets and empty wallets behind. These have no place in a kingdom without limits.
Maybe you’ve been inside too long. God is always preparing a journey out for us. He loves to whisper to us about it if we’ll listen. The message is, “There’s more for you. You were not made for this place. Come away with me and let me reveal my kingdom to you.”
Getting there will cost you and feel dangerous, but how dangerous is it to live in fear? I want to listen to that whisper and risk my comfortable ways to find the treasure that is his kingdom. How about you?