Our Comfort Zone

January 30, 2017
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Are You Washed In The Blood"1 (Lyrics)

For years, I've spent many pleasurable morning hours with my Bible and coffee, immersed in Bible journaling. Curled up on the couch, I watch the birds outside while listening for God's small voice inside. I thank God for His creation, and for my comfort and peace.

Psalm 96:3 – Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples. (NIV)

How many can be reached with a scribbled notebook that I throw in a box when finished? Like the servant given one talent, I buried mine in a closet. Then a year ago, I was encouraged to join this ministry of writing devotionals.

The easy flow of written words became more difficult when faced with the knowledge that someone else would be reading it. Required to focus on one point and stay within a certain number of words, I often experience writer's block. I miss my comfy couch. Faced with other opportunities, I wondered if I should give up on this. I'm grateful to receive encouragement from readers, but perhaps, was I attempting too much?

Then, I attended a presentation by a photojournalist from the Wycliffe Bible Translators. While she's going back to school, to raise money for her mission trips, this young woman also speaks and sells photographs, regularly putting herself into unusual situations. One of the more bizarre things that she's required to do is to travel thousands of miles, arrive in a place that she's never been before, and look for a man holding a sign with her name on it. She gets into the car of this total stranger, and they speed away into the night, along dark, deserted roads to her hotel. She's always relieved to arrive at the right destination.

God takes us out of our comfort zone! He doesn't give us just one job to do. When we follow His lead, He always builds on what went on before, but we may take various learning paths. Our experiences come together in the right place at the right time — and then God moves us on again. We may not even be aware that He's used us.

Our purpose is to testify for God. It sounds simple and can be done in many different ways. Obedience means taking on God's assignments, not our own. My years of writing were training sessions. Lately, I've stepped out in other directions that also involve writing. Life's a journey. We must learn not to stay in a place God that wants us to leave — and also not to be too eager to leave a place where God wants us to stay! Today, I encourage you to join me in God's challenge. Step out of your comfort zone. God gives us whatever we need, but He never said it would be easy. Ask God for courage and strength, and feel His omnipotent right hand lifting you, as it has me.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the men and women who take a risk and go off to mission work, facing innumerable dangers in Your name. For those of us in ministry here at home, we ask for Your grace and patience. Help us to persevere, to listen for Your leading, and to declare Your glory. We are grateful for the privilege of serving You. Amen.

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About the author:

JJ Ollerenshaw <sandjollie86@gmail.com>
Belleville, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Am blessed by this devotion.

    Great word JJ. Keep writing.

    Glad you are sharing your thoughts! Thanks!

    This confirms many of my thoughts today. Thanks!

    We are grateful for writers like you – Thank you JJ for listening to His leading

    Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy and learn something from your messages!

    Well done JJ, so glad you took up the challenge!

    Dear JJ Ollerenshaw:
    I LOVE your well-written, well-thought-out, inspiring devotions.

    I submitted a Devotional and, although it was well received, have been slow to write another. Thank you for your encouraging words this morning and may God bless you in His work.

    So glad to read your lesson from today. It reached my heart. I especially liked the scripture reading from 2 Corinthians 12:9 which encourages us to believe that God can use our weaknesses.
    Thanks for writing.

    Your message spoke to me this morning, We live in a community where there is a good bit of poverty. It can be rather frustrating to try to “help,” and yet, we must keep trying and so your words encouraged me in that directions. Thank you.

    God’s timing is always perfect. How illuminating your description of feeling the nudge to take one step beyond your comfort zone and subsequently acting on that guidance from the Holy Spirit.
    In one month, I will be moving away from the church family with which I have bonded for sixty years. May the lessons, skills, graces I learned be readily applicable to my new situation, whatever that may be.
    Thanks for your faithfulness.

    Thanks for the encouragement. God has been coaxing me out of my comfort zone lately and I am grateful for that. I am beginning to experience what it means to go out and meet people where they are, and do what Jesus commanded His disciples to do. I find it scary, but each time I go, it gets easier and I am learning. Like the bearers of the ark in Joshua’s day, as I step out, God acts, much to my delight. But it takes courage. And faith that God will do what He says He will.

    Thanks for sharing this. I loved this story as it reminds me of how God has pushed me along.
    I developed my writing skills in the church beginning with young people’s.
    I was always the one who did the newsletter and publicity. I continued to learn by taking courses, going to workshops and having a wonderful mentor.
    There was no money for me to go to college and get a degree. I actually quit school to go to work and support my mother.
    But God led the way, a big challenge was guiding me to start my own newspaper.
    It is God who placed our gifts within us and doesn’t leave us to flounder in developing and using them.
    Very recently I have been prompted to write devotionals and have discovered in my senior years another new way to share this gift.
    Good for you! And thanks for prompting me to reflect upon the wonders God has and is doing, in my life.

    JJ –
    Thank you for this devotional and for each of your devotional contributions! I’m currently in a situation where I have been asked to fill in and lead our Sunday church services occasionally. I have filled in recently, and it certainly took me outside of my comfort zone! Your devotional helped remind me that God led me to this place in baby steps that I was able to handle (with His assistance, of course), and He will continue to support me in this endeavor.
    Thank you for this much needed reminder, and for the encouragement to do the things God wants me to do – even when they make me uncomfortable.
    God bless!

    Thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone by writing your devotionals to comfort us.

    Dear JJ,
    Your writing got better as it built up to its climax.
    My writing experiences in some ways have paralleled your.
    Keep writing.

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