“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both.”
I was so encouraged by that quote. I printed it out and put it above my desk determined to choose courage rather than comfort.
But the courage never seemed to come. I spent the next few months in my all-too-familiar comfort zone, watching my dreams come no closer to fruition.
I prayed for courage. I would fully admit to others I was struggling with fear. I memorized scriptures about fear. But still, I stayed in my comfort zone.
One day, I was journaling about my idols and how they were keeping me from reaching my dreams. An idol is anything that takes the place of God. As much as we may love God, we all turn to other things that feel more comfortable and enjoyable than God.
So anyway, I was writing my list of idols. Fear was top of my list. So was social media and certain TV shows I’d binge watch instead of following my dreams. Even coffee and chocolate made the list. And then I had a startling realization: My comfort zone was my biggest idol.
Yep, despite the fact that God had put dreams deep in my heart, I was choosing to stay in the safe and familiar. Despite the fact that God had called me, I was hesitant to move forward in faith and courage.
What the Bible says about courage and obedience
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
366 times in the Bible we are commanded not to fear. That’s one for every day of the year, including leap year. Obviously this is a message God wants us to take hold of, and yet we still struggle with it.
But I don’t want fear to have such a hold on me anymore. And I’m guessing that since you’re reading this, you feel the same way.
Throughout scripture, God calls ordinary people to do big things. Things outside their comfort zone. And what makes them extraordinary, what makes them our Bible heroes is simply that they obediently stepped out of their comfort zone in faith. They weren’t great men and women. They simply did great things for God in obedience.
- Moses was called to leave his job of shepherding sheep to confront the pharoah and lead an entire nation of people to freedom.
- Joshua was commanded to lead the fearful Israelites into battle and into freedom so they could take hold of their Promised Land.
- Nehemiah was called to leave his comfortable job in a palace and become the leader who would help rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
- Gideon was called to leave his job threshing wheat and lead a small group of warriors to defeat the very people they’d been hiding from.
- Esther was challenged to approach the king-though it was against the law to do so without being invited-in hopes it would save her people from annihilation.
- Mary was called to become a teenage mother before she had even become a wife. And not just any mother, the mother of the long-awaited Savior.
- Jesus was called to die an excruciating death on a cross so that you and I could be saved.
- The uneducated disciples were called to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations despite persecution.
- Paul was called to preach to the very people he had been persecuting, and to those who had been doing the persecuting along with him.
What I find encouraging is that some of our Bible heroes made excuses too. They felt they were not good at speaking, or that they were too weak, too young, or too unqualified. But they were obedient anyway.
They had their doubts and their fears just like us. But they chose to be obedient.
- Moses, who felt too unqualified because of his speech would be the one to confidently tell Joshua to “Be strong and courageous, for you must go into this land…The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7
- Esther, who was fearful of the fatal consequence of approaching the king without an invitation, tells Mordecai to fast and pray for her and “If I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16
- Mary, who was a little unsure about the logistics of getting pregnant before being married still said “I am your humble servant. Let it be done to me as you say.” Luke 1:38
- The night before his death, Jesus in great sorrow told God “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42. He then obediently went to the cross.
- Paul, who experienced unimaginable hardships while preaching to churches he helped establish said he was “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God.” Romans 1:1
It really is a matter of choice. You can choose to be courageous, or choose to be comfortable. You can choose to be obedient, or continue to live in fear.
Let’s both pray for courage and choose to step out in faith and courage, despite how we feel. I can’t wait to see what God can do when we step outside of our comfort zone.