I know, we all love our La-Z-Boy recliners and our 182-inch flat screens and our newfangled technological devices that are simultaneously cell phones, cameras, video cameras, and microwaves, all in one little hand held device. I don’t want to give up my air conditioning or my car or electricity (contrary to popular belief, just because we gave up tv doesn’t mean we are on the path to becoming Amish – not yet anyway).
But with each new thing that brings us comfort, another little tentacle wraps its way into us.
This comfort thing reminds me of Spiderman. Remember how Spidey gave in to his feelings of rage and anger and hate and put on the black Spidey suit, only to realize that it had taken him over? Remember how, eventually, the only way he could get out of it was to rip it off his skin?
Comfort can do this to us. Before we know it, we’re being controlled by it.
So why the depressing rant against nice stuff? you ask. Who climbed up your tree and shook all the apples out, you may wonder?
I’m not against nice stuff, in and of itself. I’m not against spending money on cool gadgets or nice cars or big houses. But what I’ve started to realize is that having all of this stuff, and trying to figure out how to pay for it, often keeps people from pursuing their identity. I’ve known people who wanted to go off and do some adventurous, exciting things but couldn’t because they were stuck in this huge house they could barely afford, or couldn’t imagine life without those two nice cars (the payments of which added up to nearly $1000 per month). I’ve known people who were in credit card debt out the whazoo (no matter how I spell whazoo, spell check won’t accept it), and the plastic kept them tied up in a life they wanted out of.
All because of too much stuff that made them comfortable.
Are you making huge life decisions based on how comfortable you expect to be? Are you avoiding your calling because you think it might be a little uncomfortable? Have you decided not to start that business or change your vocation or up your involvement in something that you’re passionate about because you want to remain comfortable?
Did God promise us comfort?
He promised to meet our daily needs.
He promised to never leave us or forsake us.
But most of the great stories show people leading extremely uncomfortable lives. Adventurous, yes. Fulfilling, yes. Were they provided for? Yes.
Comfortable? Not often.
Abraham had lots of stuff, but for decades he was in the uncomfortable position of waiting for a child to arrive. This is a very painful, uncomfortable place to be. When he tried to alleviate that comfort on his own, Ishmael was born, and all kinds of chaos broke loose.
Moses was called OUT OF the comfortable life of an Egyptian prince to lead God’s people into the wilderness. But he never even got to see the Promised Land. Did you catch that? One of the few men who God EVER spoke to face to face, as a man speaks to a friend, one of the greatest servants of God to ever walk the planet, and he spent the majority of his life in the wilderness.
Ouch. Doesn’t really line up with our capitalistic, name-it-and-claim-it, pursuit of happiness religion we’ve created, does it?
David was called to be king but spent years before that wandering the country side, fighting for his life. Then, when he was king, he never seemed to stop fighting battles. When he finally pursued comfort, and stayed home when most kings were fighting, he ended up having an affair and nearly destroying himself and his kingdom.
When we begin to pursue comfort, a new found sense of selfishness will always lead us astray.
Are you spending a lot of time and money trying to make your life more comfortable? Or are you actively seeking to put yourself in uncomfortable situations that force you to mature and grow?
Someone who wants to run a marathon enters into a training regiment that always goes just beyond where they are currently comfortable. If, during every run, they stopped when they got uncomfortable, would they be successful? Of course not.
Life is no different. Break out of the current comfort zone that is defining your existence.
Am I some kind of ascetic who thinks you should deny yourself every pleasure, that you shouldn’t own anything, that you should inflict pain on yourself to become a better person? That you should live in van down by the river?
I’m just asking you – what is motivating your decisions? Are you be led through life by the master of comfort? Are you increasingly enamored with leisure?
“A life dedicated to leisure is in the end a life dedicated to death, the greatest leisure of all.” -Anne Lamott