We hadn’t made it very far. We were only about three miles outside of Strasburg when Ryan asked everybody on the bus to share why they were wanting to go on this trip. Nine of us from MVF were headed to Houston to help with hurricane relief. I sat there and listened to the rest of the team’s answers and all I could think was “uhhh, I really don’t want to be on this trip.” And I even said something along those lines when it came my turn but followed it up with “…but the best way to grow is to get out of your comfort zone, I guess?” still trying to convince myself that this was a good idea.
I had never been on a trip like that before and to say that I was hesitant would be an understatement. I even tried to back out of it once to no avail. I had been so busy up to the point of departure that I really didn’t know anything about the trip. All I knew to expect was: new place, new people, new routine, new experience. The only things I knew for sure to expect were the exact things that were threatening the comfort zone that I was so happily living in. There was nothing wrong with my comfort zone. It was where I had spent my entire life and I didn’t see any reason to ever leave it.
But then I thought of Abraham in Genesis 12 who uprooted everything he had to venture into unfamiliar territory because he trusted God’s faithfulness. I thought of Rahab in Joshua 2 who risked her own life for a God she barely knew because she recognized His power. I thought of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1 who had risen to prominence and lived a very comfortable life as cupbearer to the king but heard of the destruction in Jerusalem and left to go rebuild it’s wall because his heart broke for what broke God’s. These are only a few of the people we see in the Bible who were willing to step out of their comfort zones into God’s abundant faithfulness.
And then I thought of Jesus. Was he comfortable on the cross? Surely not. Every breath he took was a reminder of the nails that pierced him and the people that betrayed him.
For the rest of the 18 hour bus ride, I tried to justify to myself why I didn’t need to take a tiny step out of my comfort zone when Jesus willingly took something so extreme. John 13:12-15 says, “…He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” The Bible makes it evident that we are not called to just “do good” or be “better”—we are called to be like Christ. If Christ had to do things outside of his comfort zone, then why shouldn’t I have to?
Houston didn’t disappoint—it was uncomfortable just as I was expecting. I left a very comfortable house in Strasburg and walked into homes of complete devastation in Houston causing my mind to be full of some form of these questions throughout the week: What are you supposed to say to these people? How do we act? What are we going to walk into today? Is it okay that we’re having a good time? Is it even normal to be sweating this much?
Being uncomfortable was something I had planned on. What I wasn’t planning on or had even considered was the equal amount of–if not more–comfort I felt throughout the week. Houston didn’t disappoint, but neither did God. He provided comfort through the homeowners we talked to. He was evident in the joy that each one of them had despite losing everything just weeks prior. He provided comfort through New Hope Church, who we partnered with while we were there. He provided comfort through New Hope’s countless volunteers who lovingly provided every breakfast and dinner for us each day we were there. He provided comfort through a man named Bruce who showed up every morning and every evening to make sure we were taken care of and He provided comfort through each person on our team.
MVF, you sent an incredible team to Houston. This team wasn’t trying to just do good or be their best selves. They were striving to be like Christ. For an entire week, I watched this team walk into other peoples homes to bust their butts for hours on end. I watched them sweat. I watched them cry. I watched their hearts break for people they didn’t even know—some of them never having even met. I watched them love on every person they came in contact with. I watched them actively be the hands and feet of Christ. And it was a beautiful thing.
Abraham, Rahab, Nehemiah, Jesus, the volunteers at New Hope and the team from MVF. All of these people had two things in common: faith in their God and a willingness to step out of their comfort zone into something bigger than themselves. It took me longer than it should have to realize that stepping out of your comfort zone into discomfort is a lot easier when you serve a God of comfort. It’s easier when we know we cannot lose. We know the outcome because we know the Victor. What more comfort could we ask for?
Are you being asked to do something outside of your comfort zone? Do it. Move forward down that unforeseen path. It may be something as simple as walking across the lobby at church to talk to somebody you would normally avoid or inviting a co-worker to lunch to see how they’re doing. Take that step because it’s when we’re moved outside of our comfort zones into places that are bigger than us with people who are different than us, that we are able to experience not only the comfort God so freely gives, but the glory he can gain.