Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 14, 2011

tidings of discomfort and joy

A few days ago, I woke up with a stiff neck. Every movement seemed to remind me that the muscles around my neck were not in a good mood. You can probably remember how aggravating it was when you had that stiff neck or sore back, or sprained ankle. Every step screams that something is amiss. To sit in a chair or lie down takes extra effort, and you find yourself trying to find just the right position. If you are anything like me when those stiff necks come, you would pay any price to be comfortable. I can only imagine what my friends with chronic pain go through. The minor bout with a stiff neck caused me to reflect on being comfortable.

It is not a stretch for me to say that you and I are very much alike in our desire to be comfortable in life. An adequate income, a home in the right neighborhood with a great school system and living with some measure of control over our circumstances is a reasonable goal for all of us. When you imagine your spiritual life, although words like sacrifice, commitment and serving abound, you and I still cling to some measure of control. After all, we want to be comfortable. However, in my opinion, God’s priority is not our comfort, but our joy. So in thinking about what I believe to be God’s design for His followers, I’ve coined the phrase joyful uncomfortable-ness.

If you and I value His control in our lives, we then will accept that He has a purpose for us that will take our time, energy and sometimes our resources. Living with an eternal viewpoint will cause each of us to focus on others and not what makes us comfortable. Caring, loving and ministering to others are anything but comfortable. But really loving and helping others will cause joy (joyful uncomfortable-ness). Just this morning I was tested with my own desires. Prior to a breakfast meeting, I was to talk to a friend about faith and spiritual growth. But instead of desiring to discuss important issues, I wanted to read the sports page and not call my friend. You see Mike likes his comfort! After calling my friend, I am glad to have joyful uncomfortable-ness.

Recently, I have been studying the life of the Apostle Paul. From prison, he lived with joy and cared for others. I Colossians 1:24, we find the words; I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. His life was hard, his joy was obvious and what He cared about was others. He lived the phrase before I coined it – joyful uncomfortable-ness. Now I don’t think for a moment that you and I have to endure the incredible circumstances that Paul faced to please the Father. But I do believe that the more you and I love Him, the less comfortable our lives will become. The question for all of us to answer is this; is His cause worth our uncomfortable-ness?

My answer to that question is, yes! Because I know that if my uncomfortable-ness pleases the Father, He will provide joy in ways that I could have never imagined. However, I know that I will selfishly want to read the sports page some mornings. I am sure you understand the battle. But for you and for me, if living well for Christ causes us to have some uncomfortable moments, so be it. And with those moments, look out for joy.  Think about it!

…..If you were wondering, my neck is better….

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