By Phil Geyer

I play a game each year as summer fades away and autumn creeps in or crashes upon us.  I like to think that it comes from my thrifty German upbringing and my environmental leanings.  Some of my progeny believe that the reasons are far darker and crueler.  They call the game “freeze the family,” but I would rather think of it as “avoiding unnecessary waste.”

As you have guessed, I am one of those guys who tries to avoid turning on the home heating plant until long after Labor Day.  Once turned on, the main objective is to keep the pipes from freezing.

My stoic wife goes along with this and will just add layers clothing until she is either warm or cannot move.  The brisk atmosphere causes her to cuddle more, which always helps my resolve to remain thrifty.

The brisk atmosphere causes her to cuddle more, which always helps my resolve to remain thrifty.

While they lived with me, my children never encouraged my approach to home temperatures.  Then they got married, moved out, and started paying their own bills.  That is when things changed and, for some of them, their comfort zone became less important.  They just needed a bit of incentive.

In general, I find it difficult to move out of my comfort zones.  I like things a certain way, and I am comfortable with my life.  For me, it is a real challenge to get up early so that I can be sure to have a personal time with God; and having a sleep disorder doesn’t help me leap out of bed.  However, all too often, my day is very busy and my quiet time with my Lord is rushed or very short.  I know how important it is to spend one-on-one time with my Creator, but I find it hard to go from horizontal to vertical until I really must.

When I hear about a spiritual conference or retreat opportunity, I sometimes tend to think first about how I can’t attend, instead of how to make it happen.  My life is busy.  I have grading to do.  The grass and weeds need trimming or raking.  I still have 200 boxes of stuff from my parents’ house to process.  The 15 year old addition still needs a few finishing touches.

Sometimes there are very good reasons why I can’t make it.  But sometimes, I just want to stay in my comfort zone.  My house.  My regular food.  My comfortable bed.  Besides, it might not be worth the time.

It is hard to know how much we miss by not being more inclined to move out of our comfort zones.  We like things the way that they have always been.  It seems to be a common tendency, but God doesn’t intend for us to always stay in our comfort zone.

Growing in our relationship with Him shouldn’t ever stop.  Sometimes it seems that if we aren’t a bit uncomfortable, we aren’t growing.  Growth can involve stretching, and that can become difficult.

If we aren’t a bit uncomfortable, we aren’t growing.

When God is moving our church in a new direction, how much is our praying and discerning impacted by our own desires to stay in our comfort zone?  “This is what I like.”  “This is what I am used to.”  “This is how it has always been done.”  As cultures change and societies change, our church may be called to change.  Not in a bad way, but perhaps in a different way.  If we are the same this year as last year, something is likely wrong.

In our personal lives and our collective lives, we need to find the incentive to move forward and perhaps be a bit uncomfortable, so that we can better grow as our Creator intends.

The motivation for dialing your faith walk more and more toward Jesus isn’t monetary. And it’s certainly not change for the sake of change. But being willing to step out of your comfort zone so Jesus can use you more and more to connect His love and mercy to other people? That’s worth all kinds of inconvenience.