Why it’s Time to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

I hear it on Sunday, thinking the preacher’s looking straight at me.

Me trying to look away:

When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful —- that even hurt — this is a gift.

We are being given a gift.

These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God — in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.”

Where’s the back door of the chapel? I’d like out.

I look out the window to snow coming down. Shift hard in my chair.

Can’t find any comfortable position.


I’ve been way out of my comfort zone for weeks, a month, a year now.

God taking the book, my story with my bare heart,  and me way out of my comfort zone. This week, #4 on the Times. On Saturday, all the way to my Bible Study with the Early Saturday Morning Sisters, I’d told myself I wasn’t opening my mouth, not saying a word, not letting anyone into how this all felt.

And when the other Anne had looked up from Zechariah 8 and asked me how it was for me, I didn’t say a thing, couldn’t, for everything quavering, heart running all liquid. I had mouthed it to the ceiling, a murmur looking up, trying to keep it all from spilling.

“How did I end up here?” Sometimes you can’t control whether you get to stay in your comfort zone or not.  

When God moves us out of our comfort zone…

When God

We’re in Christ’s zone when we’re out of our comfort zone.

And the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, comforts us when we step outside our comfort zone. It’s only in the uncomfortable places that we can experience the tenderness of the Comforter.

When everything opened and fell on Saturday morning, Annette had left her chair, came and just hugged long, and Mama had reached over and I had brushed it back, smiled, believing. Knowing. Anne had prayed long and earnest and I had felt the Spirit’s embrace, like the warmth of the sun laying it’s arm down across my shoulder. I had felt it, how the sun had shone.

We’re in step with the Holy Spirit when we step out into hard things.

Faith gets out of the boat.

And walking in the Spirit means stepping out to walk the waves and feeling the comfort of His grip.

Isn’t this gift?

Sunday, the pastor preaching to take that step, I look across the sanctuary.

Can you really say that to the girl who doesn’t wear her engagement ring anymore, to the beautiful mother whose husband left and the cancer has come, to the bent widow sitting next to the empty chair? Can you really say that to them, to the world?

That the greatest gift we can ever receive is the gift of losing our earthly security and comfort? So that we can unwrap the intimacy of the Savior and His Heavenly Comfort.

I swallow hard.

When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- this is a gift.”

Counting the gifts, one thousand gifts, isn’t a pop culture kind of gratitude.

It isn’t a new age kind of feel-good exercise. It isn’t trendy. And it definitely isn’t comfortable.

Counting one thousand gifts is to live the radical thanks to Christ. It’s about an exercise in the age to come coming now and finding comfort in the Comforter. It’s the culture of believers really believing, the culture of God and the Blood of the Lamb.

This world doesn’t need trendy gratitude like it needs Jesus gratitude.

The kind that gives thanks for the bread and the nails, for the fire that refines and the blood that saves.

That gives thanks in the pitch and the thunder, the wind and Gethsemane black, that gives thanks even staring into the face of death because it sees His face in all things — because it fiercely believes in relentless Grace and the Hound of Heaven who can’t stop pursuing in Love.

That doesn’t gives nebulous thanks to the universe, but named thanks to the King of the Universe.  

When Jesus gave thanks, He took the bread before His crucifixion, before the Cross and the thorned Crown — and gave thanks for that.

Gave thanks for that which symbolized His own breaking.

Gave thanks for that which tasted of death, because He knew — because He trusted — that even the hardest, the incomprehensible, was for ultimate good.

Counting one thousand gifts is more than gratitude. That can be mere cultural construct.

Counting one thousand gifts is about eucharisteo. That is a Christ command. Eucharisteo, that Greek word, for “give thanks” that expresses what Christ did at the Last Supper: take the bread of pain as grace. Give thanks for that which is hard. Endure the cross, all in view of the joy set before.

Counting one thousand gifts means counting the hard things as gifts — otherwise I’ve miscounted.

After the service, I write a card and have a new leather Bible to gently place into the hands of a woman God’s moving out of her comfort zone.

I promise her that I’ll keep counting with her. Us together — believing.

And after Sunday lunch and the dishes, I sit with the kids opening up a gameboard and I open a book and read this:

Ecstasy comes from the Greek word ekstasis.

Ek meaning out.

And stasis meaning standstill.

Ecstatic=out of static.”

I close the book.

The children are laughing loud, cheering, over just the right move on the gameboard and He keeps whispering it to my trembling heart, to me who knows and then forgets:

Those who fully live, who live ecstatic lives of joy, embrace moving out of comfort zones.

Ecstatic joy is found outside of static comfort zones —Because it’s moving out to where the Spirit moves.

The Spirit is never static. Never standstill. Like the wind, the Spirit always moves. Joy is found in Him.

“When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- this is a gift.”

Shalom crawls up on my lap. I lay the book down but I hold onto the words.

“Mrs. Nagel told me at church that she’d seen flowers poking up before this snow came. Do you think they are still out there somewhere, underneath the snow, Mama?” She looks out the window.

The snow’s still coming down, a mystery of white.

“There are signs of spring out there.” I tuck a curl behind her ear and say it soft. “Outside, in the cold, still signs of spring. Gifts coming.”

She smiles, rubs her hands happy.

Outside of comfort’s warmth, gifts unfurling underneath. Signs of radical change emerging everywhere.

Winter being overturned, of eucharisteo in the midst of hard things  — of a revolution of thanks in all things to the God over all things.

Shalom and I fill a pitcher of water for the crocuses on the table.

She counts the blooms. “There are seven!”

I smile at her so ecstatic.

And I stand there watching —

watching the water flow out into this ponding circle, and then moving out, always farther and further out….

edited from archives

Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012, counting more of the endless, One Thousand Gifts… Taking The JOY DARE to Fully Live — even when hard times come, this the radical revolution of eucharisteo everywhere…

#3135…how He carries the revolution on to #4 on the Times when we’re most out of our comfort zone are we most in Christ?

New York Times

# 3136…  snatching a kiss on that dimple of Levi’s, him scrambling eggs

#3137… the hard eucharisteo, praying with Elizabeth , mama of 5, with cancer and the most wondrous smile

#3138…  the way snowflakes fell on my coat as we walked yesterday, shimmering clear

#3139… horses standing in snow

#3140…  continuing to pray with these women for marriages and vows and love

#3141…  him bringing me a slice of pineapple with a wink

#3142…  the mess in the basement. and a bedroom. and a children’s bathroom. We’re all here. He’s all good. We’ll get it turned around…. again.

#3143… the group hugs of little nieces

#3144… kneeling at a bedside and just sobbing it all out to Him who knows. Who really knows.

#3145… this stepping out of my comfort zone — and stepping into the zone of Christ — the only real comfort there is.

Unspeakable, unending thanks be to God…

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Take The JOY DARE for February— and Count 1000 Gifts in 2012 (maybe winning the NikonD90 camera would be a gift too?)

Thank-you is a word that can change you, your world — the whole world!

Share the joy?

oneThousandGifts-February{Download to print here}

{P.S.: Some were wondering where/how to chronicle their #1000gifts in 2012? Any way that works best for you:

in a private journal, with the free app, on your blog and join us in linking up here on the blog every Monday, on the free Year of Graces calendar, or on facebook or twitter (#1000gifts). I’ll be sharing thanks to God each day, Lord willing, on my personal facebook page and on the One Thousand Gifts facebook page — the community there is profoundly encouraging. You are more than welcome to join us! And yes, we will post a new Joy Dare Calendar here on the blog, the first of every month, Lord willing — you can use the Joy Dare Calendar for each month — or not at all.

The point is? Just count any 3 gifts a day — to count 1000 gifts in a year. That’s all. Any way that works for you! Just count your blessings!

And yes — we’ll be updating the blog with more information about the draw for the Nikond90 camera for those who complete the dare and count 1000 gifts in 2012! Open our eyes, Lord, Open our eyes! The Whole Earth is fully of Your Glory! }


Free Printables : 3 Ways to Find Joy this week

1. A Year of Graces {A Free 12 Month Gratitude Calendar} Click to print here
Picnik collagePicnik collage


2. Count all His Gifts Wherever You Are: {One Thousand Gifts Free App}:

Click here for the free #1000gifts app : The gift of joy for a friend? Print this card about the free app for a friend Picnik collage

3. 1 Paper = 1 Week of Joy
Tuck 1 sheet of paper in a pocket & jot down 7 gifts for 7 days:
(perfect booklet to cultivate the habit of the joy hunt for kids)

(folding instructions for booklet here)

Picnik collage


Join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts?

Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.

Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!