Situations are scary for different reasons.
There was the time I went on a mission trip to Taiwan and we visited these strange temples. They were full of plastic, brightly colored, menacing statues that crowds of people were worshiping. Sick and lame people were spread out everywhere, some weeping loudly, hoping to be healed by a 4 foot Fisher-Price-gone-wrong monster. I could feel the spiritual darkness in the place. It was like a think fog, making the air heavy; and I was afraid.
There was the time I found myself alone in my car with a drug addict in a bad part of Pig Town (a run down neighborhood in West Baltimore). I thought he was in recovery. I thought I was driving him to a shelter. I thought he was safe. I thought I could trust him. I was wrong; and I was afraid.
There was the time I was put on the spot about my faith in a group of irreligious friends who were just getting to know me. Would I be labeled? Would they keep including me in stuff? Would they continue to treat me as one of the gang? If I go all Jesus crazy on them am I going to be shunned and excluded? I was afraid.
There was the time I stood toe-to-toe with an inner city high school student twice my size in an argument about behavior. Inches from one another, he yelled in my face and pointed his finger at me with malice intent. I was certain he could crush me; and I was afraid.
Following Christ never leads us to places of comfort and security. Jesus never takes into situations we can handle. This is for our benefit. The journey with Him is at its best when we are in over our heads and totally dependent. Christ’s call is not to come and relax, to come and chill, to come and enjoy. Christ’s call is to come and die, to come and surrender, to come and marvel at how He comes through.
There is a cute phrase people like to toss around: “Jesus will never give you more than you can handle.” While that is true when it comes to temptation; it is false in regards to life. Jesus wants you in places and circumstances you can’t handle. The Spirit doesn’t lead us to things we can manage on our own.
Look at the disciples in the Gospels. Is there ever a circumstance, a teaching, or an activity that was relaxing. They never say, “Oh I got this one Jesus.” They are always off balance, always unsure, always afraid.
Therefore, whenever I am comfortable, whenever I can manage the circumstances around me, whenever I’m confident in my own abilities to handle the task at hand I pause and ask myself if I’m really following Jesus.
Take Matthew 5:1-20 as a classic example. There were pigs and a graves – neither of which made young Jewish men in the 1st century comfortable. Then there was this crazy man, with super human strength, screaming and cutting himself. If the disciples had been in a car they would have locked the doors, rolled up the windows, and sped up until all of it was a speck in the rear view mirror.
Father, never call me to safety or comfort. Always lead me into adventures and surroundings that are more than I can handle so that I must surrender and be dependent on you.