The most encouraging segment that we watched on the PBS channel’s shows about North Carolina’s history, unique attractions, people and destinations was a story about a local man who was suddenly diagnosed with an eye disease. He looked to be in his mid-thirties when he received the news that he would gradually lose his sight. The report tells of the personal and emotional trials and tribulations that he went through as his sight was taken away. But yet it documented such a determination that I have not seen in many people.
At one point he finally decided that he was not going to let his lack of sight deter him from living a full life, doing the things he enjoyed. So he began to walk around the house, in the neighborhood and then around his town… without any aid but his white walking stick. But wait! The best of the story is yet to come. Eventually he began to journey away from the paved sidewalks and streets of town and hike on the nature trails and paths in the woods around his hometown.
As his confidence grew he made the bold determination to hike the 2180+ mile Appalachian Trail that traverses from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. During the program they interviewed his parents who openly expressed their concerns commenting that they thought that he’d lost his mind along with his sight! But that didn’t stop him… and in the early spring the year he planted himself… alone… at the beginning camp in Georgia and began to ask the various groups as they came through if he could join in with them.
Well… he kept up his determination even though the first 24 groups rejected his plea. But on the 25th he hit the jackpot and began his journey with the assistance of a young man who agreed to hike with him. Then some two months later and the assistance of others along the way, he successfully hiked the entire trail! I am not too sure that I would have had the guts, confidence and determination to do that! What about you?
One of the things that really struck a chord with me, was something this gentleman said about the sudden changes in his life at the end of the interview. He said that he finally understood that in his new situation, that somethings would never be the same again and that he learned to just get over it and find new things that he could do that would bring joy, comfort and meaning to his life! I think that is a good word to all of us when making the decision to expand the boundaries of our comfort zones or not…
One of the points I read in the commentary as I have been studying I Timothy is something that Paul was basically trying to convey to the young Timothy saying, “If you are God’s servant, called by the Spirit, obeying His will, then you can stay with it and finish the walk.”* (See: I Timothy 1:12) But Paul didn’t stop there, he also gave some practical advice declaring “It is not enough to proclaim the faith with our lips, we must practice the faith in our lives.”* In other words, he was encouraging Timothy to not only believe, but to also step out and act on those beliefs! Just like the blind gentleman I told you about.
I’ve discovered time and time again, that the hardest part of stepping out of my comfort zone is that first step. After that, it tends to get easier with each step forward that I take… many times in total faith as I haven’t walked that path before! I am not sure what hurts me the most in our situation… when those who refuse to take that first step end up negatively affecting my wife, or the negative affect I see festering in their own lives. Sometimes our refusal to step up and beyond our comfort zone affects a lot more than just those immediately involved in the situation!
But on the other hand… Our courage in stepping out can have an immensely positive and encouraging effect on others like how I felt after viewing that story about the blind man’s courage to go beyond what he could not see (literally and emotionally!). What helps me the most when faced with difficult steps in our current journey, is the knowledge that since God has called me to do what I am doing for my wife, that He has also equipped and enabled me to succeed… no matter how difficult or unusual the task or situation may be.
So… what do you think? What will your next move be when faced with a situation that’s new to you? Do you step up and out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons… or stay put? Remember… keep in mind how your decisions will affect those around you. Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What actions am I expecting to take when the limits of my comfort zone are being expanded?”
*Be Faithful, Warren Wiersbe, Study on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, chapter one