Sometimes we need to be rescued from the pettiness and self-absorption of our lives. In a world focused on selling comfort, it's easy to become oblivious to how God views our first-world problems. To get his perspective, we need to see how they stack up against the problems that others have.
I see our lives in terms of an invisible "comfort meter." If such an instrument existed, it would measure the balance between comfort and challenge or pain in our lives. We need challenge to grow. Friction and pain always attend the growth process.
Yes, we need comfort – we need to rest and reflect after a season of challenge. Without some measure of comfort, we can become hard-edged. Our compassion for others who are enduring difficult parts in their lives can wither. The trick is to find the balance between the two. The meter must be monitored and re-set if we're to keep growing.
That is the experience that our squad of 60 has been having in the slums of Manila this past month.
Stephanie Higgins describes it:
We are here to live like they do and experience how they live life on a day to day basis and in the process, form relationships with these people. I didn't realize that just BEING here…we are impacting the people. They have probably never had people give up their time and lives to come live with them..and here we are living with them, right where they are, to love and help howerver we can.
I am truly learning what it means to be broken…in every way.
No longer do I have rights. No longer can I be selfish or expect to get what I want. No more days filled with "Stephanie's agenda" or what I would like to do.
I knew there would be good months and months that were harder. But I don't think you can really grasp what that means on the race until you find yourself curled up in a ball crying out to God in your tent because you've hit yet another level of brokenness.
I thought I had let go of it all. I thought I had given everything to God, but He has been relentlessly bringing me out of my comfort zone and into his arms. Quietly reminding me that HIS timing and HIS purpose prevail even when my comfort is stripped from me completely.
We all felt uneasy as we set up our tents right in the middle of temporary homes in a displacement center here in Cagayan de Oro. I'm becoming more aware of the evil that lurks around…and it was evident this place was filled with darkness. Our team got to learn for the first time what it means to really fight for each other and yourself in the spiritual realm. Reading verses aloud, praying together, and worshiping.
Real raw emotions come out when you are uncomfortable…
and that is exactly where I find myself here in Month 4 of my race.
I am uncomfortable in the heat and the humidity of my tent at night.
I am uncomfortable with the looks from some of the men at the place we are located.
I am uncomfortable with the fact our team has to be split up everyday for ministry.
I am uncomfortable with the fact that I miss my family and loved ones more than ever.
I am uncomfortable crying in front of people.
I am uncomfortable always sitting on the ground and being outside all day.
I am uncomfortable with the smells.
I am uncomfortable with the constant fires burning trash and polluting the air. I am uncomfortable with flies, mosquitos, and ants crawling on me and biting me.
I am uncomfortable with squatty pottys and bucket showers.
I am uncomfortable with my face breaking out.
I am uncomfortable with eating some of the food and not always being able to have the luxury of working out.
I am uncomfortable trying to function with little to no sleep and loud noises all through the night.
I am uncomfortable with no privacy..ever.
I am uncomfortable with the attention we get sometimes.
I am uncomfortable facing my past and the emotions that brings.
I am uncomfortable being around so much cigarette smoke.
I am uncomfortable truing to constantly put what's best for the team above what I want.
I am uncomfortable with knowing sometimes what I want is not what God wants or has in store for me.
I am uncomfortable trusting Him with every part of my life.
"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philipians 4:12
A great way to break up a social event with people who carry the banner of following Jesus is to say something like…”God is more interested in our character than our comfort.” Watch what happens when you say that.
I completely agree!