The Uncomfortable Truth

Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good.
-The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Justin Sweet

It's a good thing that Jesus doesn't need salespeople, because I would be really, really bad at getting anyone to buy into Him.

When people ask me how my life's been, my answer is always a variation on a single theme: Because of Jesus, my life's been rough and hard and frequently uncomfortable. But (insert big smile here) I'm learning sooo much from it!

Letting go of all the familiar things that have given me a sense of safety is terrifying.
Putting all my selfish, fleshly, ungodly habits and desires in the grave where they belong is a lot of work.
Dying to myself - my false self, that can have no place in the kingdom of God - is hard. It involves discomfort on every level. It is pain, sacrifice, and surrender.
I am crucified with Christ day by day; cutting off every part of my sinful nature and subjecting my fleshly desires in obedience to His will.

Some days, I am filled with exhilaration. Yes! Today I get to become more like Christ! United with Him in suffering! This is such an honor. 

Other days, my yet-unconquered fleshliness raises its unhappy head. Do we really have to do this again? It hurts.

On these days, God confronts me with a question: Would you rather be comfortable, or would you rather grow?

You can't do both.

To remain in comfort is to stagnate, to drift deeper into my own selfishness. I have done this before. I was miserable and filled with self-loathing.

And so, by God's grace, I choose to grow. Even when I know that the things God asks me to undertake will cause me pain. Even when God says, quite honestly to me, "This will be the hardest year of your life so far." Even when growth looks more like a series of failures and when my obedient 'yes' is accompanied by tears. Even when He asks me to walk away from the things nearest and dearest to me.

Even when life is really, really uncomfortable.

It's freeing, in a way, to no longer be driven by a quest for comfort. To realize that comfort is such an insignificant part of the grand scheme of life and to trust that a loving Father has my ultimate well-being in mind when He asks hard things of me.

So even through nights of discouragement, mornings of frustration and afternoons of failure, even in the middle of doubts and questions and faithlessness, there can be no turning back. I am tempted many times, and often I have stood, weak and wavering, on the verge of giving up and walking back toward the easy and familiar. But always, the Holy Spirit reminds me of my greatest desire: to become a fitting receptacle out of which God's glory may shine. "Are you sure you want to give up now, after coming all this way?"

I guess not.

The year has been hard, yes, but so very good. And I am finally becoming the person I've always truly wanted to be. It's through trials and testing that I grow in faith, love, peace, spiritual authority and, most of all, in the trust that there can be no arbitrary pain or meaningless suffering in my life. As a child of God, it is all, somehow, worthwhile. I don't need comfort, and all that I do need - everything for which my soul longs - is made available to me day by day as I lift my cross and follow after Jesus to death...and to the life that follows.