Moving Past the Comfortable to the Extraordinary

Is your love for the convenient and comfortable keeping you from the extraordinary?

melodylodgekoct132_editedToday a sweet friend and talented author of Entrusted, Julie Arduini, challenges us to evaluate our life, opening ourselves up to God’s nudging, even if that nudging terrifies us or leads us well out of our comfort zones.

Moving Beyond the Comfortable by Julie Arduini

As Ruth worked the fields under the harsh sun and I suspect the wandering eyes of the fellow laborers, she wasn’t comfortable. The hours were long. It was dry and hot. Had I been out in those fields I confess it would take all of five minutes before the muttering would start. I would have imagined my life had I gone back home. Surely it would have been more…comfortable. I’d be angry thinking how Naomi would be home, not as hot and dirty, and although grieving, she’d still be what I was not.

Comfortable.

Ruth in the fields symbolized her faith walk. It was outside the comfort zone. She could have returned home. She stayed with Naomi. She could have refused to work the fields, but she didn’t. She could have kept the fruits of her labors for herself but she went home and gave the grain to Naomi.

I’ve never had to work a field but I have been challenged to step outside the comfort zone. With writing I remember the day God whispered it was time to say goodbye to writing the newsletter for the local Mothers of Preschoolers group. There wasn’t a bad thing in what I was doing, but God was calling me to do more. I had no idea what that more looked like, and walking in obedience was definitely a leaving the comfort zone experience.

I’ve left the comforts of a life I thought I would spend the rest of my days. We were an Upstate NY family, it was all I knew. When the financial fallout of 9/11 hit our area my husband’s job changed. An opportunity came in the exact time frame his job was ending but it was nearly 300 miles away. It meant leaving everything and everyone in a season where our baby was very ill and my dad passed away. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

BeyondIDocoverIn Beyond I Do, Ainsley’s life is a fairly predictable package. Things are planned out. Her life, her future is…comfortable. How tempting it is to ignore His call and bulldoze forward on our own strength and hopes. Ainsley’s choice is what Ruth had to face. What I had to surrender was the comfort zone.

It isn’t easy but Ruth’s story offers a great look at God’s heart. When Ruth obeys and surrenders the comfort zone she has a protector and provider named Boaz. He makes sure she receives food, drink, the most fruitful land, and stalks that had already been pulled out for her.

The very first day we moved to Ohio our daughter, severely delayed at the time because of her sickness, pulled herself to stand. Our son blossomed in his new school. My husband thrived and had dreams fulfilled at church.

Ainsley received a happy ending.

Leaving the comfort zone isn’t easy. It’s a choice nearly every minute to fight resentment and grumbling. But eternal rewards are there and as Ruth 2:1-17 show, favor is abundant.

That’s the zone I want. How about you?

Could you relate to Ruth and her obedience to leave a comfort zone by working the fields?

Do you tend to resent people who don’t seem called to leave the comfort zone?

Have you ever been in Ainsley’s position with a future mapped out but God was calling you in a different direction?

Describe a time when you felt God’s favor and protection.

What do you sense God is asking you to do with what you’re reading in Ruth 2?

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Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is a frequent contributor to Jasmine’s Place. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedEntrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. I often tell our daughter, I’d much rather receive God’s blessings than consequences. What I mean is, I’d rather be walking in His will then venturing away from it. There’ve been many times when following God’s will has been difficult, uncomfortable, and frightening. Moving to Papillion was one! (You can read about that here.) But in every trial and triumph I’ve learned God is good, loving, and faithful. He truly does have our best in mind.

Share your thoughts in response to Julie’s questions here, via our study email, or at our Beyond I Do Bible Study Facebook group. If you’re not a part of our email loop or Facebook group and would like to be, simply shoot me an email and I’ll get you added. 🙂

WhenDawnBreakspreliminaryBefore I go, I wanted to share some exciting events in my world. I recently learned my novel, When Dawn Breaks, is available for pre-order at 25% off! You can get it here.

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution forces her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 23 page excerpt here.

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Have you ever felt God nudge you to do something so out of the norm, so unexpected, you frantically searched for a “unless” clause? There have been countless times when God’s dropped me in something I felt ill-equipped or ill-prepared for, but looking back, those have been the times when I’ve felt closest to God and when I’ve learned the most. And each time, standing on the other side having seen God moved, I’ve been so grateful I said yes. Because God never called us to a stagnant life. Rather, He calls us to full surrender, unhindered obedience. Today my sweet friend and Maria Looking Upfellow Living by Grace hostess Maria Morgan shares a time when God thrust her out of her comfort zone and what she learned from it.

Stepping Out of the Zone by Maria Morgan

 

My comfort zone. It’s aptly named, because it’s where I feel comfortable. I’m familiar with the people and places within this zone.  I know what to expect. I can be myself and not risk rejection. It’s a safe place.

Recently, my husband, Steve, and I travelled to North Carolina for a charity golf tournament. The event was sponsored by Steve’s company, and was attended by over a hundred people. People I didn’t know.

I was definitely outside my comfort zone. And to add to my discomfort, my lack of expertise in the area of golf left me wondering what to discuss with them. Would we have anything in common?

golf

Be a friend

I wouldn’t classify myself as shy. But I don’t normally go out of my way to meet strangers either.

As the first dinner party got under way, I remembered some words of wisdom from Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” (Proverbs 18:24; KJV).  That was something I could do – be pleasant and welcoming, and show a genuine interest in those to whom I was introduced.  I stepped outside my ‘zone.’

 

 

Focus on others

Over the next couple days, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people, and realized an advantage of leaving my comfort zone. I was focused on others, and no longer concentrating on what was convenient for me.

On our drive back to Georgia, Steve and I talked about the importance of getting together with others. As Christians, we’re instructed to be “…given to hospitality,” (Romans 12:13b).

Make time for what’s important

We were conscious of the fact that we had allowed our schedules to prevent us from following through on this directive. When we realized what we’d been missing, it wasn’t difficult to get out the calendar and begin planning to invite friends and acquaintances over for a time of fun and fellowship.

Are you stuck in your comfort zone? What step are you willing to take today to move beyond what’s comfortable?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for challenging me to step out in faith beyond my comfort zone. Your Word provides wisdom for every situation. Help me to practice hospitality with those you bring across my path. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

*Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She’s passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation. She lives in Georgia with her husband and daughter. Visit her on the web and download a free copy of her eBook God Speaking @ www.mariaimorgan.com.

Let’s talk about this!

When has God asked you to step outside your comfort zone, and what were the results? Share your thoughts and God-moments with us in the comments below or join the Facebook discussion at Living by Grace.