Summary: When we hit the ’end of the road’ in the journey of faith, we discover it is only a bend

Coming out of comfort zone

“Female of this species is a lot deadlier than the male?” No, no , I am not referring to Black widow -that venomous female spider inhabiting Western part of US whose deadly sting can send one to an early grave. Rather, I was reminded of this phrase after going through the recent media reports on a female suicide bomber (terror attacks involving women suicide bombers seems to be on the increase) in Iraq killing about 54 people on the first day of Feb, 2010. It is indeed quite tragic that enduring bomb blasts has become a way of life in Iraq since the US invasion of 2003. If media reports are to be believed about 6.5 lakhs innocent civilians have perished since the US forces took over this historic country all in the name of “war against terror”. The purpose of this sermon is not to justify or criticize the action of a country intending to play “Globo-cop” but to focus a bit on human psychology and the challenges it brings in its wake in the spiritual realm.

Even as the terrorists are striking with impunity in a country noted for its ancient civilization, have we ever wondered why people are not deserting that country? With life being so insecure, wouldn’t it be pragmatic of Iraqi civilians to leave that strife-torn country and go and settle elsewhere, where there would be greater security to life and limb? But people would never, never easily come out of what the psychologists refer to as one’s “comfort zone”. Despite eerie shadow of death hanging all around, people wouldn’t budge an inch from their familiar environs. Why? The reason is… going and settling in a new place would involve so much of stress and strain (mostly mental) of getting used to new neighborhood, the necessity of seeking and plying a trade in an oh-so-unfamiliar market, finding new schools for children… the list can go on. Candidly put, people prefer absorbing shockwaves emanating constantly from bomb blasts over the cultural shock the move crossing national borders would bring about. By the way is there not a mention of “Inertia of movement”-come what may- in the Newton’s laws?

Many, many centuries ago (around 1800 BC to be more precise), one man did leave IRAQ, yes Iraq…Mesopotamia as it was called then at Divine instance (Acts 7:2-3). Mind you, there were no bomb blasts forcing him to flee his home; rather he moved out of Iraq, at a time life was running smoothly for him like in a well-grooved assembly line. Yes, it may be hard to believe but this man did dare to venture “out of his comfort zone” without any worldly compulsion. Welcome once again to Father Abraham…welcome once again to that great hero of faith, whose acts of complete trust in His provider God (Genesis 22:14) has inspired and STILL continues to inspire countless across centuries. The Almighty’s instruction to him was clear as daylight “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3). Exhibiting implicit, child-like trust away went this faithful soul to a land the good Lord had reserved for Him knowing NOTHING either about it or about what was in store for him there (Heb 11:8). Oh, I wish that the good Lord had shown a video-recording (read vision) of the blessings that lay in front of him! Time to remind ourselves about a catchy, insightful one-liner? “More than knowing what the future holds in store for us, it is important to know the PERSON, who holds the future”. Yes, future to Abraham may have resembled the road on a dark frosty night, where nothing is clear even as he responded to the Divine call to leave his home. Fast forward to Genesis 23:5-6…and we see the fruits of his obedience…how the unchanging (Heb 13:8), faithful Lord provided for him in his new environs, so much so his neighbors marveling at his abundant blessings address him as an “honored prince”! Truth be told, in eternity more than his earthly blessings what Father Abraham would really treasure, would be his “growth in God-dependence” which his act of coming “out of comfort zone” brought about!

Friends, we tend to shower encomiums on this great patriarch in the context of his sacrificial act of being willing to lay even his beloved son on the altar (Genesis 22) in that exacting testing time of faith. Nothing wrong about it (we pouring accolades)! But do we give enough credit to this Father of faith for his initial “leap of faith”…for his exemplary act of coming out of his comfort zone? Remember, that is where his relationship with the good Lord got cemented besides paving the way for being called righteous later on (for exhibiting implicit trust -Romans 4:3-on his faithful God).

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