I don’t know about you, but I like to be comfortable. I like comfortable clothes, and comfortable books, and a comfortable life. Some people are armchair quarterbacks; for most of my life, I’ve been an armchair adventurer. I like best to sit on a winter’s night before a cozy fire, snuggled up with a good book or two, a cup of hot chocolate, and somebody I love.
But I’ve been discovering that being comfortable doesn’t help you in the long run.
For instance, if you are pregnant, and lie around the house the whole pregnancy, yes, it feels good. When you can’t see your feet any more, and your balance is so off that it takes major shifting and the help of at least one other person just to stand up, the idea of just staying in bed until the baby comes looks pretty good.
But if you get up and walk every day of that pregnancy, you will have a better (probably shorter, too) labor and delivery, because your body is in better shape to do what it’s supposed to do.
This holds true for pretty much all the rest of life, too, in all its facets. When we were babies, our parents fed us, changed us, carried us around. But by the time we were toddlers, we should have been doing a lot of that ourselves. Sure, we got carried once in a while, but by the time you’re two, you can and should be walking and feeding yourself. Under adult supervision, of course.
If there is something wrong with the baby, this normal growth might not happen, or happen at a later time. And that is sad. But what if there is nothing wrong? What if the baby just sits there, refusing to learn to sit up, or crawl, or stand, or walk, or run? What if the baby chooses to take the easy way out, and let its parents keep carrying it, feeding it, etc. for the rest of its life?
Spiritually, it’s much the same thing – when we are first saved, Father God wraps us up in the blanket of His love, and takes care of a lot of stuff for us. But eventually we start to grow up, and then we need to learn to handle stuff ourselves. I don’t say ‘by ourselves’, because we are in Him and He is in us, so we are never alone again, and never need to do things by ourselves. But we do need to learn to do things. We need to learn to stand, to walk, to resist the enemy.
Out of all the things God could have called Himself –Creator; Almighty God; Spirit; the uncreated, unending, supreme being; and all the names of God we find in the Old Testament, when Jesus came He revealed God to us as Father. God deliberately chose the concept of physical birth to represent the spiritual life. We really do follow the same growth pattern spiritually (and in the other facets) as we do physically. We are born again (John 3:3), we are children (I John 3:2), we are friends (John 15:15), we are His bride (Eph. 5:25-28). As we learn more of Him, we grow up, until we become the mature man of Eph. 4:13.
But we are capable of stopping this growth process in ourselves spiritually (and in other facets, too, but that’s for another time). Whenever Holy Spirit presents us with an opportunity to grow, to learn more of God and ourselves, to change and become more than we were yesterday, we have the option of saying, “No”.
We can decide that we want to take the easy way out, to become armchair Christians, so to speak – reading of others’ adventures in God: their exploits, victories and defeats – instead of experiencing our own. Watching them play the championship game on TV, or even in the stands, but never suiting up and heading down to the scrimmage line.
Let’s get one thing clear before I go on. There is nothing wrong with watching others in order to learn how to do it yourself. That’s how babies learn to walk, to speak, to do all the things we humans do – they watch us first.
But if you just keep watching, and never try to do it yourself, then you can be, at the end of your life, a 40-year-old spiritual baby. Ugh!
Another thing to consider before you decide to take the easy way out – if the time ever comes when you decide to learn to do a specific thing, or it becomes absolutely necessary, it will be a lot harder to learn! They say the best time to teach children a foreign language is before the age of 5. I didn’t have too hard a time of it learning Spanish in high school, but I’m now trying to learn French, and my brain just isn’t as absorbent!
And, trust me, there will come a time when you have to get up and walk spiritually, or run, or fight. Even though our Father is a gentleman, He is also our Father. What kind of father allows his child to sit in a corner, never learning, never growing?
I need to add here that sometimes, the hard thing is to trust Him by doing nothing in your own power or wisdom. To just wait, trusting, for Him to do it. This can be harder than going and doing. And while it looks the same as doing nothing – on the outside – on the inside we are fighting giants, and wrestling demons. To trust, when everything inside your mind and heart is screaming that He can’t be trusted, is spiritual warfare of an extreme kind. To wait, doing nothing, because if you did something it would be in your strength and not His, is ‘the hard way’ just as much as going out into life’s sewers to kill rats and save homeless, hopeless wanderers.
So the next time you are facing learning something new spiritually, or fighting a bigger battle than you think you can handle (He is with us, remember?), or walking out in faith on to that invisible bridge (I love that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!) and you think you’d rather not, you’d rather take the easy way out, think again. If you put it off, it will be harder to do later.
Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t do that at Calvary, take the easy way out? He thought about it, even prayed about it (in the garden of Gethsemane), but in the end, He took the hard way, and bought our freedom! Thank God that He did!
May you be blessed with opportunities to NOT take the easy way out. And may He show you very clearly that He is with you, and will not let you face more than you can handle as long as you let Him be in and with you, helping you and giving you strength and wisdom and power to finish the job.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. (C.S. Lewis)