idols spiritual

Make Yourself Comfortable... or Not?

12:27 PMHeather

I pulled in to the pick-up parking spot at Walmart, having checked in on my grocery app at home that I was en route. And let me just say, for the record, that although I broke up with Walmart long ago, they've totally wooed me back. Oh, yes, indeed. I'm smitten. In fact, I'm in love and I think everyone else should be too.

I'm going to be the boss of you. Get thyself on the Walmart grocery pick-up bandwagon. If, in fact, your local Walmart has this amazing, life changing service. Because it is indeed, life changing. I can sit in my pajamas (or yoga pants if I dressed up for the day) and order my groceries online. The website saves your favorites, so after the initial order, it's easy breezy lemon squeezy to git 'er done. I pay online and choose a pick-up time for the next day.

Then, I receive a notification just before my time slot to let me know my order is ready. I check-in on my app and the GPS tells Walmart how far out I am (7 minutes, people. I'm 7 minutes from this lap of luxury). I pull in to the designated spot and then it's like magic.  The nicest people on planet earth come to my car window to confirm any substitutions on my order and have me sign off on it. 

For the record, I think they recruit from Santa's elves because these people couldn't be more pleasant and happy and kind-hearted. 

Seriously get outta town for the next thing. They load my groceries in my van. And tips are not allowed. Once that's done, they offer a friendly good-bye and in about three minutes -- voila -- I've "grocery shopped." It's the ultimate life hack. It's changed my quality of life. Now, I truly only see "People of Walmart" on that website where other less fortunate souls post photos from their ventures into the Walmart because they lack my super power of grocery shopping online. 

(For the record, I not only order groceries. Aside from the ridiculously lovely produce that I think they must keep hidden from their store displays, I order hair products and office supplies and all things Walmart. All. The. Things. Online. And loaded into my car by Magical, Friendly Elves).

Anyway, so back to my story. On Monday, I pulled into my spot. I turned off the car and watched for the Elves through my rear view mirror. And watched. And watched. And waited. And glanced at my clock. After about 7 minutes in (I've NEVER waited that long), someone came to my window. She was completely flustered and said there was a computer glitch and they were "gathering my order."

So I nearly died of heat stroke. I live in Texas, y'all. It's June. As in, something akin to the temperature of the sun's surface. 

So I just nearly died. And waited. And sweated. I was so uncomfortable. Then came the ultimate insult. A black SUV with a mama in work out clothes who looked like she actually does, in fact, work out, pulled in next to me. In about 3 nanoseconds, her car was loaded and she was on her way.

For the love, Walmart. Why? Why did you pick on ME? What did I do to deserve this? What did I ever do to you, but brag all about your online grocery greatness on social media (and now my blog) to recruit other shoppers? 

I waited 15 minutes. Y'all. That's 15 minutes of my life I will never get back. And I was hot. And it totally frustrated me that it took me FIFTEEN WHOLE MINUTES to get my groceries into my car.

The next day, I was texting with my Canadian son about his ongoing job search. I realized I had to come clean about the ugly truth of myself. Here's what I sent him:

"Just sitting here with my prayer journal and realizing what an idol I make of being comfortable. In life. In circumstances. In our privileged world, we expect & demand comfort. 

But the gospel tells us this is actually contrary to our calling. Jesus wasn't about comfort. He was about God's glory. So, I'm asking the Lord to help all of us lean in to the discomfort & rest -- even there."

So, just to break it down for you. I am the biggest wimp ever. I am the most privileged, spoiled brat there ever was. The morning after the Great Walmart Incident, in the mirror of the Scripture, I saw myself. And it was not pretty. Not one little bit.

Because I worship my comfort. I worship my ease. I want and desire and seek to have things come easily. And when they don't, I find myself feeling horribly envious and sorta angry about the LuluLemon Mama who whips into her parking spot and gets her groceries in no time flat while I'm just sitting and waiting and dying in the Texas summer afternoon heat. Which makes me feel as though LIFE IS SO UNFAIR.

And it is truly ridiculous. Bless, God should really be rolling his eyes at this wayward daughter of his. Just to make my point perfectly clear, I'll offer more evidence. I've offered Exhibit A. Now, Exhibit B. I've been all Bitter Betty the last 12 weeks because Frontier Communications. 

If you are a fellow victim of Frontier Communications coming in and ruining your Verizon FIOS, I could probably stop right here. If not, here's the low down. My internet and television cable services have been totally whacked out since this transition happened on that fateful April 1st day. No April's Fools Joke here. Spotty service. Or no services. Dozens upon dozens of calls. Tech Repairs being dispatched but not for days on end. Messed up billing. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Ten days ago, Frontier gave me the opportunity to make another new friend on the Great Frontier Call Chain. I knew she was my new BFF when she introduced herself. Her name was Heather. AWESOME! So, Heather and I had a nice long conversation and we laughed and talked and chatted all about the whole long saga. And after I offered her my rant in the most humorous, consensus-building way I could, I joked, "Listen, I know this is a First World Problem. I know I need to talk myself off the ledge. Because there are starving children in Africa, and I'm all 'help me! My On Demand feature is GONE.' I can see myself here. But can you still help me?" 

Except really... it's not a laughing matter. It's not at all a joking matter. That in our instant internet, social media, text messaging, microwave, ultimate convenience world, we have become Idol Worshipers. We have fallen prey to the Culture of Comfort above all else and we bow to our own comfort and ease. We, the followers of Jesus Christ, are such idolaters and we are too busy chasing our own comfort to call a spade a spade. 

We whine and moan and complain about things that interrupt our comfort and ease. And in all that "Woe is me, my Wifi went out!" we are missing the point altogether. We are missing the truth that could free us and set us on a path of true gospel living.

Comfort is not found anywhere in the gospels. It's not found anywhere on a Biblical list of "things to seek and obtain" or "things promised to all believers." Quite the contrary. From beginning to end, the Bible tells us over and over that we are to put our own comfort aside. Examples too numerous to count shout loudly at us that choosing to follow Jesus means chucking our comfort aside. Forsaking it. Forgetting it. Dismissing it.

Jesus himself. God's one and only Son. Part of the Triune God. Became uncomfortable for his Father's sake. He left the ultimate reality of heaven and all of its glory in order to confine his diety into flesh and blood. He did the most uncomfortable things to bring his Father glory. He endured and withstood and suffered and was forsaken in one horribly, earth shattering moment in order to fulfill his purpose. 

He who calls us to follow him made it clear as day what that would entail. What God is asking of us when he calls us to his narrow path is nothing less than what he sent his son to do as well. 

Embrace being uncomfortable. 

Put yourself aside. 

Put others first.

Yearn for things that have yet to come.

Endure the discomfort of restless waiting seasons for promises unfulfilled.

Jesus did all the uncomfortable things. Going hungry. Being tempted. Walking long and dusty roads. Serving others who don't get it. Being challenged and ridiculed and mocked. Coming to offer his very life to save those who plot his death. Asking friends to pray with him in his times of greatest angst only to find those friends asleep. Not once, but three times. Bending low to wash the filthy feet of those who argue over who will be seated in the place of honor in heaven. Even as he had explained his impending agony for their sake.

Following Jesus means dismantling our idol of comfort. It means finding a way to rest in the truth of living as an alien. Living for an invisible kingdom and serving an invisible God. It means doing things that are counter intuitive. It means setting our own desires and ease and comfort aside and saying, "Not my will. But yours."

It means going the way of past heroes of faith. Those who were called to build an ark in an evil generation that had never seen rain. It means returning to the scene of your murderous crime to have an audience with the Pharaoh and be used to help set your people free. It means wandering in the desert sometimes, for forty long years, waiting and waiting for the Promised Land. It means going to the dreaded Nineveh. It means standing firm against a giant. It means choosing to be obedient to pray even if you get a slumber party with lions. It means bowing only to the One True God and being thrown into fiery furnaces. It means being imprisoned, stoned, beaten, shipwrecked and bitten by vipers to spread the gospel story because you were made to SEE when you were blinded by the glory of God on a road to Damascus.

All over the world even today, there are great heroes of faith who truly get that living out the gospel means forgetting all about comfort. And they would be baffled by our laziness and lack of fortitude here in the Western Church as we worship at the feet of comfort over obedience. 

Because they gather to worship Jesus in underground churches at the threat of death. They memorize Scriptures because owning a Bible is forbidden. They exist in refugee camps while terrorists and extremists override any ounce of freedom or comfort they ever knew.  

They endure. They live in conditions lacking in any sense of "comfort", with their eyes clearly set on the Everlasting kingdom to come. They put one foot in front of the other, day after day, knowing that their "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

And for the record, when they think of their momentary troubles it has nothing to do with how slow the wifi is, whether or not their cable's On Demand feature is working or how long they have to wait for their groceries to be loaded in their car. Their momentary troubles have nothing to do with whether they lack the funds to go on a vacation like everyone else who is posting on Facebook. And their momentary troubles do not include whether they have a cute wardrobe, perfect hair and a house that looks like Fixer Upper.

While we bow to the idol of comfort, they cry out in surrender and worship to the glory of a God whom they serve and trust despite the threat of violence and the reality of suffering. And like Paul, they do it gladly, for the sake of the gospel. 

Because their affections are properly ordered. They value what is most valuable, and it has nothing to do with how quickly or easily they can access life's amenities and luxuries. They esteem Jesus, the suffering Savior, above how smoothly their day is going.

They live by Matthew 10:28-30:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus promises rest. Not ease or comfort. He promises that the yoke of salvation frees us from the idol worship of comfort. He offers us the great exchange of grace to cover all sins and the gift of adoption as sons for our earthly troubles and distractions. He says it is all worth it. 

Being uncomfortable here and now for the glory of eternity. It's quite a deal. To say yes to being an alien and stranger in this world as we fix our eyes on Jesus and do whatever he calls us to do.

Destroying any pursuit of comfort for the pursuit of obedience.

For example, choosing to love loosely as you foster a child who needs you, although it will bring great discomfort and will feel bittersweet.

Loving generously, even if its not reciprocated by your wayward teen or difficult family member.

Forgiving often because you were forgiven ultimately, even though that co-worker is really hard to work with.

Extending grace to those who least deserve it, because you were granted the grace of the Savior. When the cashier is rude. The grocery pick-up is slow. The customer service rep isn't helpful.

Going wherever Jesus calls. Surrendering your dreams and ideas and hopes for the sake of the immeasurably more that a limitless God might ask of you. Being still and waiting when it feels so ill fitting. Because you choose to believe that He acts on behalf on those who wait for him. Living counter culturally, no matter what. 

Saying to yourself, day after day -- following this Jesus will include discomfort. And I can stomach that. Because He is far more valuable and treasured and cherished than any ounce of comfort I might find. 

Holiness over comfort.

It's choosing to be okay with not making yourself at home here and now because you will be making yourself at home then and forever. 

Smashing the idol of ease, moment by moment, for the pathway of Jesus. Knowing that it will be worth it when you see him face-to-face and he says, "Well done. Good and faithful servant." 

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