May 2, 2016
At church on Sunday, our pastor compared us to kittens in a box. We like the familiarity of the four walls around us, knowing that we are safe and guarded from a world that is sure to hurt us. We are creatures of comfort. Even those who adventure find comfort in adventuring. Fear comes from leaving comfort, from exiting our boxes and entering the unknown. Just like kittens we fear wandering and getting too far from our box of comfort.
For some of us, leaving the box comes easier than to others. Although there is still fear, our inquisitive minds can overcome our desire to feel safe. We break through the fear and take a step into opportunity. From taking our first step, to riding a bike, to hiking a mountain, we make small movements in our life that prepare us for the times when we are out of our comfort zone, and that takes us to a new point in our lives.
In college, it seems like there are quite a few of those moments. Not just taking steps out of the box, but getting literally thrown from our box most of the time. Understandably, it’s not just college students, but as I look forward to a full time job, mortgages, and hopefully a family some day, it seems like we never stop getting thrown from the box.
As the pastor talked about the kittens, I laughed because, honestly, I’m not the biggest cat fan. After the service let out, I couldn’t help but laugh as in due time I saw myself as the little kitten. I HATE change. I hate losing people in my life that are familiar, I hate leaving places that are familiar, and fear tends to drive most of what I do. Not just fear of change, but fear that if I wander too far what I left will be gone when I return.
Now, do I believe that I’ve had such dramatic losses that my life will never be the same? No, although I do know quite a few people who have experienced that. The point is that we get to see the beauty of living in the unexpected, see what lies outside of our comfort zone, and every once in a while be left in awe. Fear takes that from us, and leaves us in a paralyzed state. It takes away wonder. It takes away freedom.
Fear is put to death when we begin to understand the confidence that’s found in God’s omnipresence. One of the most well known verses in the Bible, Joshua 1:9, talks to a group of people who were not only getting thrown from their box, but also getting their world rocked because of it.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
My world is being rocked. I’m about to enter grad school, my relationships are changing, and I’m heading to Swaziland in two weeks. Fear has truly been crippling me, and coupled with it is self-doubt (what a lovely combination). However, I serve a God who walks before me, behind me, and beside me. There is no place I could go that He hasn’t already been, so courage, strength, and peace lie just outside of our box. Yeah, I’m probably going to screw up, as I have many times before. But there is a new sense of wonder that is coupled with confidence.
It’s interesting that we doubt what’s outside of our box. We not only doubt God’s provision, but His grace as well. My 67 year old housemate, Barbara, always says, “where God guides, He will provide.” That statement has held a lot of weight in my recent weeks, because I’ve begun to not only put myself on a pedestal as to say that I’ve gotten myself to this place, but that I’m the provider as well. It’s a self-centered mindset that is a danger for believers who work hard to strive outside of their boxes. When we start to experience failure and setbacks, it carries that much more burden because we’ve made ourselves an idol and put our trust in something or someone that is flawed.
Lucky for us, grace covers our weaknesses because His strength is enough. We can live in that; we can dwell in a place of freedom. We no longer have to fear what’s outside of our comfort zone because He has provided a way for us to experience His sovereignty though our surrender. Surrender is hard, but freedom is better. And when we leave our boxes, He will provide as He always has. It’s our turn to make the first step, because God can’t move a parked car.