When my faith is frightening

Faith calls us to smash our comfort zones
Faith calls us to smash our comfort zones

There have been a few instances in my life that I can recall where faith calmed, sustained, and carried me through certain seasons. For the most part, faith has meant something else to me.

In August of 2013, Miley Cyrus released a song with a chorus of, I came in like a wrecking ball.” More often than not, the chorus of that Miley song describes God’s presence in my life.  That’s the part of my faith journey that really scares me. I find myself wanting to be comfortable; safe; being in control; doing things on my terms, in my time, in my own way. God seemingly (always) has a different plan.

Every time I want to commend myself for drawing my circle of inclusion wide enough, Jesus comes back and says, “Nope. Wider.” Every time I want to give myself a pat on the back for drawing a line in the sand that I felt was loving and appropriate, Jesus shows up in his sandals erasing that line saying, “Nope. You don’t need to draw any lines in the sand.”

Every time I want to remain comfortable and remain in control and invested in keeping the status quo, Jesus comes in like a wrecking ball and throws my life into chaos — a good and love-filled chaos, but chaos nevertheless.

An invitation to discomfort

Someone once told me that the Holy Spirit comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. I guess by living, working, and being in the first world, complaining about first world problems, I’m more comfortable than afflicted. Actually, I know that I’m more comfortable than afflicted.

And I wish I can tell you that -- when the wrecking ball that is the presence of God comes crashing through my life — I have enough sense to follow through with it. But even after that rude awakening, I still have a desire to stay within the comforts of my self-created boundaries.

I learn that it’s really, really easy to pray Jesus, lead me. It’s the actual following Jesus where he leads where I struggle with.

That’s what’s challenging and scary.

I once was making a late night church supply run at Wal-Mart (the local Wal-Mart was open 24hrs). As I was about to turn left into the strip mall where the Wal-Mart was located, I noticed a man sitting on the bus stop (way after the last bus left), head down, and staring dejectedly into his coffee cup. I felt this voice rise up from the back of mind telling me to pull over and go see if that man was okay: “Uh. No. It’s like 11pm. This is not the time nor place to engage with strangers.” I said to... myself.

But that voice (which was my voice) returned accompanied by a sense of urgency, “Go. Speak to him. It might be a good thing.”

“It might also could be a bad thing...” I countered.

Ultimately, I felt that my “sanity” won out and I drove straight to the Wal-Mart’s parking lot. But all throughout walking up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart, I kept thinking... Maybe I should’ve talked to that guy. When did I ever feel such a sense of urgency to speak to anyone...

I decided that if he was still there after I was done shopping, I’d definitely get out and ask if he may need anything. Of course, he was long gone by the time I drove to the bus stop. And this feeling of regret washed over me.

Instead of leaning into the Spirit, I chose comfort. Instead of taking a risk in the name of Jesus, I chose to remain inside my comfort zone. Really, who knows what might’ve conspired if I had initially listened. But to this day, I’m convinced it would’ve been something holy; something special.

Trusting the Spirit

 

Months later, I’d experience that same inner dialogue once more, but this time I actually followed.  I wrote about that experience here.

 

Willie Jennings asked, Where is the Holy Spirit leading us? And into whose lives?

Those words have haunted me because I realized that the Spirit continues to lead me to other people; into their lives. Which admittedly, is like a wrecking ball for me.

Being an introvert, meeting new people is beyond my comfort zone. And yet, Jesus leads me to the edge of my comfort zone inviting me to step beyond. The space beyond that imaginary border will be holy; full of life; filled with love; drenched with God’s spirit.

It is absolutely the scarier and riskier part of faith. Yet, I believe abundance of life and love awaits for us. Where is the Holy Spirit leading you? And into whose lives? 


Joseph Yoo shares TikTok tips on Pastoring in the Digital ParishJoseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart contently living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves at Mosaic Church in Houston. Find more of his writing at josephyoo.com.