Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone…
This last weekend, we had our parish festival. One of our musical groups invited me to play the opening song with them. I have played guitar for years now, but mostly in church or by myself. A few times I have had the opportunity to play secular songs with real musicians, but it never went well. I really do not know music theory well, and I had failed before. So I was afraid. The band’s guitarist, who also comes to our bible study, challenged me. He said; ’You must step outside of your comfort zone. How do you expect us to take the risk, of for example coming to your bible study class, if we don’t see you doing things that require you to step outside of your comfort zone?’
This Sunday’s Gospel, Lk 17:5-10, begins with the Apostles asking Jesus “Increase our faith”, to which he responds, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” How often have you encountered a situation, where you thought it was not possible, or ‘I don’t have what it takes to do this, or get through this’? I think what Jesus is saying by this passage, is that whenever we come up against difficult situations, we often feel like we don’t have what it takes to do it. We lack faith. We are tempted to pray, ‘Lord, increase my faith.’ ‘Help me feel like I can do this’. But here is the catch 22; if we felt like we could do it, it would not require faith to do it!!! Faith is by definition, doing when we don’t feel like doing. Going forward when it seems like there is no way forward. That is; stepping out of our comfort zone. The more we do this, the greater the things we will find ourselves doing, AND the more miracles we’ll see, because FAITH MAKES ROOM FOR GOD ACT!
As I look back in my life, and think of the many things I did without feeling comfortable, I realize these were the very moments I was most alive, and most growing as a person. And when those things involved serving God, these became the times when I’ve most grown in my faith, and better saw the presence of God in my life.
Well finally, I did accept the invitation of the music group to play with them. I actually really enjoyed it! But more important than me enjoying it, many in the parish expressed joy to see one of their spiritual leaders in a different light. I also shamelessly used the moment as a commercial to invite men of the parish and neighborhood to join our Tuesday Men’s group!
Also at the festival this weekend, I was given another task that made me even more uncomfortable! We are beginning a new High School Sunday Evening youth group in our parish. My job was to promote it. Armed with postcard size invitations, I walked up to as many high school youth as I could, and asked them about their faith. I told them about our new youth program that was going to begin by exploring some of the basic questions of life; such as what is life all about? Is there a God? Who is Jesus? Would our lives be different if Jesus is God? I felt VERY UNCOMFORTABLE approaching strangers and forcing this conversation on them. But to my surprise, many were very open to it! And more to my surprise, some of the people whom, by sight, I thought would be the least likely to respond positively, were the ones most open to talk about God!
The Pope, Bishops, and many Evangelists in the Church more and more are talking about the need for a NEW EVANGELIZATION in our world. More so than ever we are a people who live away from the Church, but we are also a people who hunger for spirituality, for something more, for God! The world needs more people who will step out of their comfort zone, and talk to people about God, and what life is all about. We need more people to leave the comfort of their material and secular lives and to live as disciples of Jesus in both word and deed! We need business men and woman who are not afraid to talk about and serve God in the world. We need parents who teach their children about God, and we need more Religious and Evangelists, who step out of their comfort zone to Preach the Gospel!
Perhaps you are considering religious life, or wondering how to serve God more completely with your life, but are feeling like you lack the faith needed to do that? Perhaps you are looking at Pope Francis, or other Spiritual leaders and thinking you don’t have what is needed to do similarly? I bet that they once never thought they could do what they are now doing either! But they all began a long journey, long ago that brought them to where they are now. Little by little, they were led, one step at a time, and each step was uncomfortable! Each step was a risk, it was a step out of their comfort zone, it was an act of faith! Even if that faith was only the smallest amount, they acted on it! Then over time, by those acts of faith, their lives grew and eventually they were doing what they never dreamed of! I challenge you to act on your mustard seed of faith, step out of your comfort zone to serve God. Come to our next Come and See weekend, November 25- 27, 2016 in Castro Valley, CA. Pick up the phone and call me at 510-671-0537, or explore our Franciscan way of life more at Franciscan Life, or Study.
Watch Franciscan Evangelists at “On Fire NorCal Jam” Discovery Kingdom Sept. 17, 2016
“TRIPLE PLAY” with Fr. Paul at Our Lady of Grace Festival Sept 25, 2016