Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Matthew 14:29  So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid. He began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” Right away Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small! Why did you doubt me?”

After running six half marathons during a four-year stretch, I felt God nudging me to attempt a full marathon. At first I fought against this gentle nudging. What? Are you getting me mixed up with someone else, God? Can’t I just stick with what I’m already doing? But when I realized He was indeed nudging me, I completely surrendered. Yes! I stepped way out of my comfort zone. I’d grown quite comfortable in running half marathons. I knew what to expect. I was comfortable with my pace. Comfortable with the training schedule. Confident in beating my own personal records from previous races. I was satisfied with my collection of medals from finished half-marathons.

But when I finally decided to attempt a full marathon, I stepped into unknown territory. It took me several days to muster up enough courage to actually register for the race. And once I officially registered, fear gripped my heart. I was no longer comfortable.  Maybe you’re comfortable jogging a few miles around the block, but you think you’d be too uncomfortable to sign up for a 5K. Perhaps you’ve grown accustomed to running nothing but 5K’s and the mere thought of going beyond that distance makes you break out in a sweat. You don’t want to leave your comfort zone because it’s just not….comfortable. But you know what? Sometimes that’s exactly where God wants us to be.

I’m sure Peter felt the same way in today’s passage. It’s pretty obvious that Peter most certainly stepped out of his comfort zone! The other disciples huddled together as they watched comfortably from inside the boat. Nobody else dared to follow behind him. He progressed from being a spectator to a participant. He stepped completely out of the boat and then he walked toward Jesus.

But when Peter saw the huge waves in the distance, he began to sink. He didn’t sink from the presence of the waves; he sank because he gawked at the ferocious waves and took his eyes off Jesus. When Jesus calls us out of our comfort zones, the wind and waves may still distract us. What are your distractions? Doubts from your inner soul? Criticism from others who don’t understand? Unexpected circumstances?

When Peter began to sink, he didn’t have to wait long for Jesus to rescue him. It’s because Jesus was right there. When Jesus calls you out of your comfort zone, he doesn’t just watch from a distance. He is right there beside you to catch you when you fall. The first timid step into the unknown can often usher in a tidal wave of fear. When that happens, humbly drop to your knees in prayer. Call out to Him like Peter did and let him rescue you with the strong grip of his loving hand.

READY? Where do you think Jesus is calling you to come out of your comfort zone? Are you still in the boat? Then trust Him as you take that first step out. Are you a few steps out of the boat? Then keep going one step at a time as you fix your eyes on Jesus. Are you beginning to sink? Then call out to Him! He is still there to catch you and get you going again.

GET SET. Psalm 105:4 Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

GO!  Lord Jesus, I humbly come to you and ask you to show me where I need to come out of my own comfort zone. Please forgive my unbelief and my human tendency to worry! Help me to not focus on the gushing waves around me, but to focus on the strength and peace you promise when we choose to seek your face. 

 

 

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

Taking a Wrong Turn

Psalm 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, Oh Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my savior and my hope is in you all day long.”

While vacationing on a beautiful beach in Florida, I planned on running three miles. The first two were under nicely shaded shops along the boardwalk. But then I wanted to enjoy the scenery of ocean waves crashing upon the beach. I’ll run my last mile along the shore and call it quits. Sounded like a good plan to me. I trudged over across the sand to the edge of the shore where I could run on solid ground. My plan was to run for half a mile out and half  a mile back to make it an even three. But that’s when I got off course.

I was ready to head back the last half mile and cut back through where I thought I’d entered the beach area. But what I didn’t know then was that I’d turned too soon. As I jogged back to where I thought our condo was located, the scenery around me didn’t look familiar. I kept looking for the sign that bore the name of our condo. But I didn’t see it anywhere. My persistent jog slowly turned to a sluggish stroll. I finally had to humbly admit the truth: I had taken a wrong turn and was headed in the opposite direction.

The sweltering sun ushered streams of sweat running down my back…. joined with tears of frustration pouring down my face. No longer underneath shaded shops to shelter me, I could not escape the blistering sun.

I sensed God gently speaking to my weary soul: Yes, you are turned around. But that doesn’t define who you are. 

As I continued to walk (not running at this point!) one step at a time closer to my condo, I asked God to show me some truth from this situation so it wouldn’t be a total waste. (Of course the obvious lesson is to figure out where you are before running an extra mile!)

Sometimes we think we know exactly where we are in life. We head off in a certain direction without evaluating where we really are. We make plans and think we have it all figured out. But then we suddenly realize we are not where we intended to be. We have to admit we took a wrong turn. We have to set our pride aside and accept the reality that we missed something.

But the cool thing about God is that even when we’ve taken a wrong turn, He’s still right there with us. Even when we are way off His intended course, He is still our rock. We may have to take a longer route to get back on track, but He promises to never leave us.

Although I was running in unfamiliar territory, I still felt the effects of the sun. In fact, it was the only thing recognizable at the moment of realizing I was lost. Whether I’m running at home in Kentucky or on a beautiful Florida beach, it’s still the same sun shining down upon me. And in the same way, God is always with us whether we’re in a predictable routine or right smack in the middle of something frightening and unfamiliar.

READY? Have you found yourself off course when you thought you were on the right path? Did you take a sudden turn not realizing it would bring you to a place you didn’t want to be?  If you find yourself on a path you didn’t intend to walk, humbly ask God to help you get back on the right course. Yes, you might have to experience some consequences but He will be with you every step of the way. He’s never left your side. He’s still there.

GET SET. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

GO! Heavenly Father, show me in my life where I’ve gotten off course. Reveal to me anything I need to confess in going the wrong way. Thank you for your faithfulness to me even when I’m going the wrong direction. Help me run back into your loving arms and walk confidently in your forgiveness and love. Amen.

path along the sea

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett 

Resistance Builds Strength

Ephesians 6:10   Be strong in the Lord, in the power of His might.

These words from Ephesians are written on the wall of my fitness center. Sitting firmly lodged in place on a weight machine, I push with all my might against the resistance of the weights I’ve measured out. Breathing deeply and gritting my teeth, I attempt to increase the amount of weight my flimsy muscles need to get toned up. To get stronger.  As difficult as it sounds, that’s how it works. If you want your muscles to get stronger, there must be resistance or you won’t see any progress.

With sweat pouring down my face, I glance up and stare at the powerful words from Ephesians again. This is when I hear the soft, gentle whisper of God in my soul:

Just as your physical muscles can only be strengthened through resistance, your faith and trust in Me can only be strengthened through resistance.

As much as I know this is true, my flesh doesn’t like it at all. My flesh sometimes rears its ugly head and shouts back out of fear, worry or anger. What if God doesn’t come through? What will happen IF? Why did this happen to me and not someone else?

And then God in His patience and grace continues to speak lovingly to me in that still, small voice:

Trust me. Don’t worry. Don’t try to take control of things that aren’t yours to handle. The resistance you’re experiencing will make you stronger in your dependence on me.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes experience this resistance with my husband. With my children. With my own selfish thoughts that don’t line up with God’s. Or I’ll feel this resistance while sitting in a traffic jam that is making me late to wherever I need to go. Even the little things can cause resistance like dishes left out, clothes not put away, a mess not cleaned up, a dropped call in a no-reception area, or a computer not working the way it’s supposed to!

Seen through my own human eyes, these things are obstacles. Interruptions. Irritations. Frustrations.

But seen through God’s eyes, these things are opportunities….to trust. To be refined. To be strengthened.

If I will just turn down the volume on my inner fleshly shouting match, I can more clearly hear the gentle whisper of God in moments like these. And trust that these moments of “resistance” are making me stronger. Making me more like Jesus. And instead of responding with fear, worry or anger when He lovingly increases the amount of weights, I can trust that the end result is for His glory.

READY? Who’s causing resistance in your life these days? Spouse? Children? In-laws? Co-workers? Neighbors? Or What’s causing resistance? Finances? Job? Health? How are you responding to the resistance? Whatever it may be, I challenge you to see these things as opportunities to strengthen your spiritual muscles. Opportunities to trust God and deepen your faith.

GET SET. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

GO! Heavenly Father, it is hard for me to welcome resistance in my life because of my sin nature. Please open the eyes of my heart to see times of difficulty as opportunities to trust you and for my faith to be strengthened. Thank you for your faithfulness to me during these times even when I doubt. Praise you for your power in my life. Amen

 

resistance builds strength

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett 

God’s Timing is Not Ours!

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

The day had finally arrived. Surrounded by thousands of runners, I inched my way to the start line. Excitement and adrenaline pumping through my body, I came face-to-face with my first full marathon.

Don’t focus on your time.    Don’t focus on your pace.     Just finish the race.

These words rang out loud in my mind. After a minor setback with a strained muscle, I accepted the fact that my goal was to finish the race. Period. I found my unique rhythm: Run for five minutes. Walk for one minute. After several miles I found myself lingering at the numbers on my watch.

Once I’d reached the thirteen mile marker I felt a huge relief. I’m half way there!

Then I made the mistake of looking too intently at my watch again. I began calculating. Okay, it’s taken me 2 and a half hours to run half a marathon. (which is about average for me!) So I should be able to finish this thing in about 5 hours if I double that. Okay…I’ll even add an extra 30 minutes since I’ll probably go a bit slower at the end.

So in that moment I realistically figured I’d be done by 5 and a half hours for sure. Seemed like a logical expectation, right? But that was my first mistake…..I set up an expectation for something that was unknown.

I plugged along through the next seven miles without any problems. Excitement flowed through every fiber of my body as I approached mile marker 20. This was a turning point. The most I’d run during training was 20. Once I got past 20 miles I’d be venturing into unknown territory. Would my body be able to continue past this point?

Yes! I breathed a sigh of relief passing mile 21. But then I looked at my watch again. Okay…I’m taking a little bit longer according to my earlier calculations, but because I added that 30 minute buffer in there, I may still finish by 5 and a half hours.

Passing mile 22, I felt my left quad muscle shake. I slowed down. Then my right quad muscle did the same. My legs felt like jello.

At this point reality sunk in. If I wanted to complete the race, I had to let go of my expectation of finishing by a certain time. Changing my pace altogether, I started walking slowly. After half a mile, I attempted to run…slowly. My quads wobbled just after a minute!  So this was my new pace. Run one minute. Walk for five. Letting go of my expectations, I stopped focusing on my watch. God reminded me of my original goal. To finish a full marathon.

Turning the final corner, I inched my way across the finish line. It wasn’t in the time I expected. (almost 6 hours!) It didn’t matter what my watch said. It didn’t matter what I’d calculated at the half way mark. I had finished the race!

How often do we make plans according to our own human calculations? How often do we think life will go a certain way based upon what we’ve already experienced? Maybe we think we’ll reach a specific goal in a short time but then we realize it’s taking much longer. Or we expect God to resolve our conflict by a certain date.

He answered my previous prayer in less than a month, surely He’ll answer this one in the same way.

Maybe it took three months. Maybe it took a year. Or perhaps you’re still waiting.

We set ourselves up for disappointment when we expect things to happen in our timing. In our way. Peace would flow more freely in our lives if we trusted God’s timing more often. It’s hard! God’s ways are better than our ways. His timing is perfect. He is never late. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is ultimately in control of everything.

Wherever you are in your race of life, I encourage you to trust His timing. Trust His ways. One step at a time.

READY? When in your life has an answered prayer come later than you expected? Where in your life are you struggling to trust God’s timing right now? Ask God to show you where you are attempting to take control and trust him to intervene in his timing.

GET SET. Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,” declares the Lord.

GO!  Dear Lord, I confess how I so often want things to go according to my own plans. I lose focus of who you really are and think I’m in control. Forgive me for attempting to make things happen in my timing. Help me to trust your timing and to rest in the truth of who you are. Amen

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett