It’s a common phrase these days, our “comfort zone.” We refer to that place where whatever we’re doing is easy, natural, and comfortable. This is the place where there’s as little conflict as possible with life or the universe. Where nothing is pushing you or pulling you. Life doesn’t bother you and you don’t bother life. Blissful stagnation.
Oops. Did I say stagnation? You mean like water that sits in the same stormwater pond until it turns a creepy green color? Ewww.
In our soft and pampered world, too often the comfort zone is the couch in front of our 60-inch high-definition (even though there’s nothing on that merits high-def) television. In our search for solace, we have defined comfort as lack of motion, as avoiding anyone and anything that challenges us.
But there’s a better comfort zone for us. This better comfort zone is the place on just the other side of a challenge. It’s around the corner from a risk and a short walk beyond reaching out. It’s a new friend, a little better health, or a closer relationship with God.
For reasons that I’m sure He will explain later, God set us up with two conflicting natures. The one nature, let’s call it human nature, grabs us by the back of our pants and urges us to take it easy, avoid risks, stay in our “comfort zone.” But our other nature, perhaps our eternal nature, is always trying to peek over the hedge, looking up at the sky or across the creek. It wants to explore, to grow, and to find new horizons.
While it’s perhaps not a fair analogy to the poor lame guy, the story of Jesus’ healing the man on the mat challenges us in our comfort zone. We can lie here, accept our infirmities and learn to love our mat, our couch, or our Eazy-Boy chair. Or we can arise, take up our mat, and walk.
The view from the mat never changes. As we all know from marathon couch-sitting sessions, it doesn’t get any more comfortable either. Leaving that comfort zone behind can be frightening, but, really, will it be less painful than the aches, cramps and dullness we live now?