Hello and welcome! This is the fourth post from the series: Lessons From My Masters Degree. For some context, please read read the first post: “When God has moved on but you haven’t”, the second post: “Fear of change prevents growth”, here and the third post: “An isolated Christian is a dangerous loose cannon”.
Let’s jump in!
Many of us have a library seat or special spot. Or a select group of friends we hang out with, or a special brand of ice-cream we just have to have etc. And we feel like we can’t do anything if we’re not in the spot or if we’re not with our gang or we don’t have that thing. On the other hand, some of us feel like we can’t study in the library, we hate crowds, we need to play music, it just can’t work etc. We have these preferences and say we know what’s best for us, but at times, these things are excuses. Nothing more than crutches we’ve made up to support ourselves mentally.
For me, my church family was my crutch. It felt like I would fail academically and spiritually without them! I needed the regular prayers for students, the student support group that assisted me with my assessments, the Pastor’s wife I could share my heart with trusting she would not gossip about me to others! The lovely aunts and uncles who were there to cheer me up. The food from our welfare department. Everything! All in all, I couldn’t survive without my church family.
The LORD disagreed.
You can’t grow without being uncomfortable. This seems so straightforward. The seed doesn’t grow until its uncomfortable under the soil. A pregnant lady has to face the discomfort of labour before going home with a baby. The same baby must face discomfort while teething for the first time, and later experience the pain of having to lose that tooth to get a stronger one. Throughout life, the principle is established.
Before growth, someone/thing has to be uncomfortable!
Now I didn’t like this principle, so the lawyer in me tried to find a way around it. I spent all my time looking for loopholes. Perhaps someone else could be uncomfortable while I received the growth I was after? or we could just skip the discomfort altogether and get right to growth!
I couldn’t function in a new church without some discomfort, so I kept going back to the church where I could easily shine because I’d built up my “street cred” and everyone already knew the type of person I was. Where I spoke and people listened. In short, a place where I had influence. How we love our places of influence. We love to go where we’ll be welcomed and adored, but sometimes, God calls us to the opposite. When it was my turn, I ran away like Jonah.
I ran back to comfort when God was calling me away from it.
God was trying to teach me how to properly start from scratch by relying on Him alone and how to be accountable when nobody else was looking. He wanted to remove my crutches and teach me real maturity. He sought to refine my character, I sought to fatten my flesh. Thus the struggle continued, and so did my failure.
You can’t win against God.
When I realised this sometime during the summer of 2017, I gathered myself together tried to do some things in my flesh. I tried to step out of my comfort zone and do what God had been asking. Sadly, once again human effort coated with shallow prayers and planning cannot produce the promises of God. I had no spiritual covering, I hadn’t been to church for ages, I lacked a covering and accountability, so of course, my efforts failed woefully. Wasted money and wasted time.
Suffice to say, I learned a painful lesson that summer!
But glory to our God who is rich in mercy. A year later and the Lord has been patiently taking me through it all again here in Nigeria. It’s funny how despite living here for more than a decade, this is NOT my comfort zone. The church here is completely OUT of my comfort zone. In fact, the ENTIRE country is out of my comfort zone!
Which is why God asked me to come back in 2016 but I ran off to do this Masters degree. In retrospect, I understand that home is the only place I could ever truly learn these lessons about growth and maturity. And while I’m still a mighty baby in a lot of ways, I believe God is refining my naïveté and gradually making me into the person He has purposed me to be!
Join me next Thursday for the final lesson, I’ll be discussing: Pride is an obstacle to obedience!
Grace & Peace.