“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
The other night at my boys’ swim lessons I found it interesting to watch the numerous kiddos present enter the pool for their lessons. While the babies and toddlers gleefully splashed in the shallow “warm pool,” the older kids had to begin their night of lessons in the larger pool…also known as “the cold pool.”
There seemed to be 3 different methods that the kids used to take on the frigid water. The first group of kids slowly made their way in, scrunching their faces into grimaces of shock as they took one step forward and two steps back. Next, there were a few kids who stood at the end of the pool, toes on the edge, hands clasped together, refusing to get in until their swim instructor told them they must. Lastly, there were a few brave souls who simply took a deep breath and went for it, making a giant splash on their way in.
What I found so compelling, was that out of the three approaches, something happened to those kiddos who decided to jump right – they immediately increased their comfort zone. Reemerging from the water, their bodies had adapted to the water’s temp. They were no longer anxious – they were all smiles and laughter – they had a new level of comfort.
Do you notice how similar this is to life? Some of us are hesitant to get out of our comfort zone, we slowly take one step forward and two steps back. Some of us stand on the edge of our comfort zone, we know it would be best to just go for it and take a step of faith, but fear holds us back. We refuse to leave our comfort zone unless someone forces us to. Lastly, there are those who find a way to be bold, to be brave, and to take a risk. They take a deep breath and go for it! Immediately their comfort zone is enlarged and they are ready to take on yet another leap of faith.
When I think of a Biblical example of someone who was willing to get out of her comfort zone, Ruth comes to mind.
In the book of Ruth (no surprise there!) we read of how a severe famine in the land of Judah forced Elimelech, a native of Bethlehem, and his wife Naomi along with their two sons to immigrate to Moab. While in Moab, the sons later married two Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah.
At the end of ten years in Moab, all three of the women were left widows and Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. Despite Naomi’s protests, Ruth chose to return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Ruth’s dedication to Naomi and to the God of Israel was clear.
When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem it was the time of the barley harvest. Driven from a need to survive, with no husband to provide for her or her mother-in-law, Ruth went out to glean in the fields of Boaz. Boaz we learn was a wealthy relative of Ruth’s former husband who was known for his upstanding character.
Following Naomi’s guidance, Ruth later made a bold move and lay down at Boaz’s feet one night while he was in the threshing room. Boaz, seeing Ruth, decided to step forward as her kinsman redeemer. According to Hebrew law, a near kinsman of her late husband could take her for his wife.
After following through with the required customary practices, the two were married and eventually became the parents of Obed, the grandfather of David.
Imagine for a minute though if Ruth hadn’t taken a risk. What if she hadn’t chosen to get out of her comfort zone? What if she told Naomi, “You know, I like your plan and all, but I’m really not a lay-on-a-threshing-floor-in-the-middle-of-the-night kind of gal. That’s a bit too far out of my comfort zone!” I guess we will never know what would have happened. However, I am guessing we would not know about Ruth today. I am guessing she would have forfeited all of the blessings that came her way because she was willing to get out of her comfort zone. I’m guessing she never would have married, Boaz, become King David’s great-grandma, or been a part of the lineage of Jesus!
Here is what we need to understand. Greatness is rarely found within one’s comfort zone. Comfort zones are where dreams die. Comfort zones are where we limit God’s ability to work in and through us. Comfort zones are where we settle for a good life in place of God’s best for our life.
I love a quote by Michael Jordan that says “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
Yes, yes I did just use a Michael Jordan quote along with the story of Ruth. Why? Because they both help us to understand that we need to get out of our comfort zone and take on new adventures if we want to live the full lives God desires for us to experience.
Life is short. Be Bold. Be Brave. Take risks. You serve a God who knows no limits, so take a deep breath and jump on in!
How is God calling you to get out of your comfort zone today?