DON’T STAY COMFORTABLE!
Terry Casales - May 15, 2020
Change can be defined as:
to exchange one thing for another thing, especially of a similar type
to make or become different
The word change can be used in several contexts:
change your mind - to form a new opinion or make a new decision about something that is different from your old one
change for the better - to improve
change your ways - to improve the bad parts of your behavior
transport - to get off the train
money - to get or give money in exchange for money, either because you want it in small units, or because you want the same value in foreign money
Is resisting change safe?
When we look at change from a behavioral standpoint, we see that it is human nature to resist change, whether internal or external. Human nature’s main goal is to remain as safe and comfortable as possible. We are so conditioned to the way we have operated in this life that any change to our paradigm is viewed as a threat to our very existence. This self-protective behavior stems from fear of possible threats — whether real or imagined — from the fear of the unknown. It is part of our “fight or flight” response to our circumstances — our instinctual, human reaction to things that we perceive are outside of our control.
We tend to want our perspective of life and our life experience to remain the same so that we can avoid pain at all costs. It is human nature to try to maintain control in all areas of our lives, again, so that our world is protected.
It is human nature to self-protect. We want to stay in our little box — we want to stay in the cave because it is safe and hidden from the dangers of the outside world. Like the bear, we prefer to be in “hibernation mode” instead of venturing out.
We have no desire to leave the “comfortable” familiar place we are in. Let’s face it, we are creatures of habit and change always threatens the status quo.
The problem with this mindset, is that without taking a risk and leaving what is familiar, there is no growth — and where there is no growth, there is stagnation. The opportunity cost — the cost of an opportunity forgone (and the loss of the benefits that could be received from that opportunity) — of doing nothing as opposed to stepping out will more likely prove too costly and have dire long-term consequences. Remember that choosing to wait to make a decision is still a decision!! Change is an inevitable reality whether we choose it or not! Change will happen regardless of what you do! However, we do have a choice whether we engage and adjust with change instead of resisting it. When we do, we will increase the chances of a positive outcome in both the short and the long run! It all begins and ends with our perspective of the situation that we find ourselves in.
There is an old saying, “things happen to us that may be outside of our control, but we can choose how we react to those things.” If we allow our minds to go into the cycle of playing out the worst case scenarios, then we will be running in a proverbial “hamster-wheel” of worry and fear and wear ourselves out and never move forward. We can choose what we think about what we see around us. We must realize that there is a real war going on in our minds. We are constantly given the choice on what we choose to believe and to think about. This is why God tells us in His Word to set our minds on the things above, because what you choose to think about becomes your reality:
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. - Colossians 3:2 (NKJV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not [a]carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. - 2 Corinthians 10:4-18 (NKJV)
I cannot stress enough to not allow negative “self-talk” rule in our minds because when we give voice to what we are thinking we are giving life to it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — we will have what we say if we say it long enough:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45 (NKJV)
This is why we are to use the Word of God to renew our minds as a strategy to maintain God’s perspective about what we are facing on a daily basis so that we think and speak in agreement with what God says:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Don’t allow yourself to be stuck
The longer we remain stuck in the hamster-wheel, the less likely we are to take risks and to explore the world outside of our paradigm. It is important to note that change is inevitable in our lives, whether we make it happen or whether it comes to us — whether good or bad. Change always happens. I heard recently the fable of the frog in the pot:
This story describes a frog that it being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, because of the immediate, great discomfort and pain, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. This fable is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or to be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.
In this example, because the frog chose to do nothing and stayed in one spot that “seemed” comfortable — it actually turned out to be more harmful than getting out of the pot early on. Unfortunately for the frog, this resulted in his demise — he caged himself, cutting off all other options. The longer we choose to remain stationary, the more difficult it will be to step out of what’s comfortable.
It is amazing to see people who are in bad situations, or in the case of bad relationships which are toxic — as a result of making bad decisions — because the person has been in the relationship for a long time, he/she does not believe that he/she can survive outside of it. He/she feels stuck, with his/her identity lost, feeling helpless and powerless to do anything about their situation. He/she would rather stay in this place of pain because it is familiar and has allowed himself/herself to be defined by it, rather than experience the challenge and the perceived greater pain that leaving that paradigm would cause his/her, regardless of whether it leads into something much better — into freedom. Again, what often drives this dysfunctional behavior is fear.
Change is not always easy
When we decide to make a change, more likely than not, it is never easy because of the tendency to gravitate back to the old paradigm. No doubt we have all said to ourselves after making a major decision to move forward in a new direction, “What have I done?” It is all too easy to go into “panic” mode. We fear like we have made a mistake and that we will fail — the very thing that we fear the most. It feels like we will drown because we find ourselves in the deep end of the pool and our feet can no longer touch the bottom for stability and safety. We must resist these feelings and be content with the fact that we WILL make mistakes along the way because we are human and we do not always have all of the answers. We can plan things as much as we are able to in our own strength, but we may still not always get it right because we do not see the entire picture.
We must realize that choosing change takes effort and sacrifice — it is something that we must do intentionally and it requires taking steps along the way toward the new goal — which may prove to be quite difficult to take initially because they are often met with resistance and unforeseen obstacles along the way. It takes consistent discipline to step into something new. It takes bold courage, because we have to fight the fear that we feel that comes with choosing to make any change. It is a matter of faith — it is choosing to believe that this is the right path to take no matter how it may look along the way. It takes trust and commitment on our part that the vision or goal is worth taking the risk.
It is important for us to give ourselves grace because we are all works-in-process. When we look at how Peter first engaged the Gentiles, he allowed his old religious mindset — based on the Old Covenant paradigm — the familiar way of thinking and doing things that he used to guide his steps instead of operating out of the New Covenant reality. Paul saw what was happening and he exhorted Peter because Peter was living as a Gentile and he was not sharing the Truth of the Gospel New Covenant reality out of fear of man. Peter was asking the Gentiles to live according to the Old Covenant, with its religious practices:
11 Now when [a]Peter had come to Antioch, I [b]withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing [c]those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [d]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [e]Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not [f]justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died [g]in vain.”
Galatians 2:11-21 (NKJV)
God’s call out of our comfort zone
It is important to note that when God calls us out of our comfort zone, it is never meant as punishment, but it is actually an act of His love because, like the good and loving Father that He is, He can see the end from the beginning and He can see the potential dangers which are ahead if we stay put. Like any good father, God wants the best for His sons and daughters and He is going to do what He knows to do to protect us.
We must realize the truth that we, in Christ, are “overcomers” because He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. We must choose to step out and do it afraid because the spirit of fear paralyzes — which is what the enemy wants. Satan’s goal is to make us ineffective for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in any way necessary so he uses fear to keep us from moving forward with God.
It is important to note that the Israelites wanted to go back to the familiar — they began to complain when they faced challenges in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” - Exodus 16:3 (NKJV)
The Israelites fell for the temptation of giving up too soon when things got difficult. Because of their impatience and their grumbling and complaining, it took them 40 years to get out of the wilderness. The enemy would like nothing more than to keep us wandering aimlessly in our wilderness in a never-ending cycle of fear and failure so that we never enter into our promised land with the Lord. Remember that you will be unable to think clearly if you are constantly playing back the failures of your life in your mind. However, as sons and daughters of God, in Christ, we are blessed to know the One with the solution to whatever we face.
We can see in the story Joshua where God gave him the solution -- the key strategy to successfully take the Israelites into the Promised Land:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. - Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)
So, instead of trying to resist change, you can do as Joshua did -- meditate on the Word of God -- and then step out boldly and courageously trusting God to lead you into what He is inviting you to do in this new era. Do not allow the enemy to keep you comfortable and in the dark. Remember that people perish for a lack of knowledge so it behooves you to intentionally seek the counsel of the Lord to give you the strategies that you need and the confidence in Him to step out of our comfort zone! It is time for you to step out in faith and choose to leave your wilderness! Beloved, remember that you are not alone in this because God is with you and He will give you the strength and the grace to step out!
Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
Leaning upon her beloved?
I awakened you under the apple tree.
There your mother brought you forth;
There she who bore you brought you forth.
Song of Songs 8:5 (NKJV)
Beloved, with God’s help, you WILL step into your Kingdom assignment! You should always remember that even if you don’t feel qualified or equipped for the task, God is the One who qualifies you and equips you for whatever He calls you to do. He will always make room and provision for the vision He gives you! He has removed the road blocks and has cleared the path before you! It is now time for you to stop making excuses why you "can’t" and come out of your wilderness, like Jesus did, in the power of the Holy Spirit! Choose to believe that you CAN do all things through Christ who gives you strength and that you WILL succeed at everything you put your hands to! Choose today to live in the faith of God and look at fear in the rearview mirror in Jesus’ Name!!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 2:7 (NKJV)
It is time for you to come out of your comfort zone! Refuse to retreat into what’s familiar out of fear! Get off the hamster-wheel of your past and step forward into your new Kingdom assignment in Jesus’ Name!
14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. - Luke 4:14 (NKJV)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me [i]to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are [j]oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. - Mark 16:15 (NKJV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)