Do you put God in a box? Maybe you only pray or talk to God when there is a crisis in your life and He lives in your emergency box or maybe you attend church regularly but have no time during the week to spend with Him and you put Him in your Sunday church box or maybe you actually find time to pray everyday but if you are honest with yourself you are just going through the motions … the truth is that I think we all have done it at some point or another. I know I am guilty. I put God in a box. This is my story.
One of the first things I set out to do after making our move across the country was to find a church home. I had envisioned that when we moved we would get plugged into a church right away and this would help me get connected and settled. I felt like finding a church would be the one place I could plant some roots , sink my teeth in , and get some sense of peace and purpose. Now, although I don’t believe there was anything inherently wrong with this notion in and of itself , I did soon discover that God had something else in mind for me and that maybe my motives were not entirely healthy.
We visited our first church and I thought , oh I don’t know , I suppose a bit naively like a young girl who thinks the first guy she dates will be the love of her life … that we would pick out a church and that would be that. Ya well – it didn’t happen like that.
One church was too sleepy, one church was too fanatical, one church was too corporate, one church was too small, and one church was too big … ultimately each church just felt so different from what we were used to and I just could not find that fit. It became clear to me we that this was not going to be as easy as I thought and I began to feel very unsettled , anxious, and with an uncomfortable sense of longing. It just was not happening … not in the way I had imagined.
Now if God would have plugged us into a church that felt like ours, looked like ours, a place where we could feel comfortable and what we were used to …. well that is what I would be … comfortable. But I have been reminded that God is not interested in our comfort especially if it is at the cost of our relationship with Him.
I felt God say to me “Your relationship is first and foremost with me”.
In my discomfort , in not finding a church where I felt comfortable , I did start to find God in ways I realized I had been neglecting. If I had gotten “comfortable”right away I would not of put in that extra work and time into my relationship with Him.
Don’t get me wrong, I would make my so-called “phone calls” to Him and say thank you and I love you and all that BUT in all fairness I could not say I was being truly intimate with Him. If I was honest with myself I was putting Him in a box ; taking Him out from time to time.
I realized I was being “a comfortable Christian” . I was still a Christian but I was … well … “comfortable”. That comfort kept my relationship from growing and really pressing in and doing my own personal work with God. The church can’t do it for me … it is there to help me , to guide me , it is an integral part … but really it is up to me. I have to spend my own personal time with God talking with Him , listening for Him, reading about Him … and I mean really talking , really listening, really reading. How can I get to know Him better and hear Him if I don’t put in the time to be with Him and to learn about Him? Sure , I can go to church on Sunday and hear a great sermon and fellowship with some great Christians … but that does not really qualify as a relationship, does it ? And yes, I knew this … but I knew it in my head , but obviously not in my heart.
So the best thing that could have happened to me was to lose my church …. as strange as I know it may sound and as uncomfortable as it made me feel. It has changed my relationship with Him and also changed my view of the church. In these past 3 months I have walked with God more closely than I have maybe in my entire life.
Now instead of looking where I feel comfortable , where I may like the music and what kind of lattes they serve and if the people look like and talk like me ,etc … we have decided to go where we felt like God could use us the most. It may be different … it may not look like and feel like what we are used to … but God’s plan is always so much greater than ours and yes, I am still learning that. And I have decided to put my trust in Him on this one and put aside my so-called “comfort”. After all, my true comfort comes from Him residing in me.
God was able to use my discomfort to teach me about His ultimate comfort. There is still a lot going on in my life … I am still dealing with a lot of changes from moving across the country and leaving everything that I knew about me and my life behind … but I have found joy, contentment, and peace even in the midst of all the change. And I found this not in a church building but in Him – in my relationship with Him.
Even Jesus knew this … he spent quiet time and read the word … and if He had to do it … I surely know I need to do it.
Being comfortable brings complacency … in complacency we do not grow. God does not want to live in a church box or any other box , He wants to live in US … we just have to open the door. And Yah – I know it will take my time , my effort, and my commitment … but I don’t want to settle for the alternative. I don’t want to be a comfortable Christian.