Stepping Away from a Life of Comfort and into the Unknown

I’ve reached that stage in life where most people begin to settle in and settle down. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

For the last dozen years, I’ve served as a leader in a highly effective Christian ministry—a successful, well-respected K–12 school. In fact, I’m the principal.

After years of investing  in building a ministry, I’ve finally arrived at a place where most would think life is good:

  • We love where we live.
  • We have all we need.
  • I feel exceptionally blessed—and comfortable.

So why am I telling you—and the rest of the world for the first time—that I’m leaving that safe and secure position to step into the unknown? I’ve been wrecked. Just not in the way it happens to most people.

Usually, we’re pushed out of our comfortable life by something that happens to us, some experience that rocks our world from the outside. For me, it’s been different. The call to a new walk of faith has come from within.

We’ve all heard that it doesn’t matter what you do as much as how you do it. That God can use you anywhere. That you never know what seeds you are planting in people’s lives, even when you can’t see the fruit. All this is true, but only if you’re not using these statements to justify your life. To avoid doing the hard thing—the really radical act that will force you to give up your own rights and submit to a story bigger than your own. If starting a family in the town you grew up in accomplishes this, great. But if it’s just a way to hide from what you’re really called to do, try again.”
Wrecked (p. 155) [emphasis mine]

That’s me. Hiding. As a ministry leader in a respected position for the last dozen years, I know I’ve done a lot of good. I’ve heard all the reasons why what I’ve been doing matters. All of it’s true. All of it’s noble. All of it’s good.

But I used  those very true reasons to justify my refusal to follow God’s call to use my gifts of writing, thinking, speaking, and leading to be part of a story bigger than my own.

We all have a moment that triggers the wrecking process.

I recall the moment God wrecked me. It happened during a secluded retreat I had set up to get clear on my life plan.

I had recently finished a book proposal on something close to my heart—what it means to truly live each day by faith. The plan was to share real-life stories to illustrate real faith.

I never thought I was about to be called to live a faith-story of my own.

As I quietly stared out over a placid lake for hours in that quiet cabin, I recall agonizing internally for hours. I prayed a lot. I wrestled with the tension: on the one hand, the clear call to write, think, and speak from a broader platform; on the other, the reality of the full attention required to lead a thriving school.

Then, in a moment of unsettling clarity of the soul, I saw the idols that had formed in my own heart:

  • My craving for the approval and respect of others
  • My fears of disappointing those who thought they depended on me
  • The satisfaction of providing not just for my family’s needs but for our wants
  • My false perception of safety and security

Something had to go. Either my idols—as good as they were—or my calling to write, think, speak and lead.

In that moment, I let go of pleasing others.

I chose to get out of the boat, but I had no idea what that meant.

I’ve learned a lot since. I still don’t understand it all yet. But I’m still out of the boat.

I’ve been walking on the water for a while now—at times shaky and more than a little damp. But still good

So far it’s been surprisingly calm.

But the wind’s picking up. Waves are starting to swell. I can see some clouds just beginning to pile up on the horizon.

I’ve figured out the general direction of the shore, although I can’t make out anything that looks like land. Not yet, anyways. I’ve heard rumors of sharks in the waters.

I’ve been told how much I am missed back in the boat. Occasionally, I turn to see if I can still catch a glimpse of it—and begin to slip beneath the waves.

A quick cry. A firm grip. A still, small voice: “It’s all right. I’ve got you.” A sheepish grin. And the faith-walk continues.

In many ways, I feel like Abraham of old.

We’re packing up and getting ready pull out to another country – but God still hasn’t told us exactly where we’re going. Maybe it’s this fear of the “undiscovered country” that kept me sitting still for so long.

Maybe it’s what’s stopping you from letting God wreck your comfortable world.

I don’t know.

People keep telling me that what I’m doing is courageous. I’m not so sure.

I can see by the look on their faces that they’re glad it’s not their comfortable life being wrecked. Sort of. I get that.

I think they’re sensing that conflicted feeling Ray (Kevin Costner) had at the end of Field of Dreams when he watched Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones) fade into the mystical cornfield.

Even though it scares us to death, we wish we were the ones invited to go “out there.” I recall that, in spite of his own fears, Terrance smiled all the way into the unknown.

In spite of being wrecked, I’m eager to answer the call—whatever that may mean. And so I wait. I write. I read great booksAnd, yes, sometimes I’m scared.

But it’s funny. I can’t stop smiling, either.

About the author: Bill Blankschaen is a writer, thinker, speaker, and leader passionate about connecting real life with real faith.  Visit his blog Bill in the Blank and connect on Facebook or Twitter and at his Patheos blog.

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This is a post by a guest author. To submit your own story of how you got wrecked, click here.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] can read more about the story of my internal journey here as God wrecked my comfortable plans with His [...]

  2. [...] proposal on what it truly means to live each moment of life with real faith. Which then turned into an unshakeable desire to enter the story myself, to find out what would happen if I chose to live by what I believed to be true instead of by what [...]

  3. [...] self-evaluation to go through on that.  The easiest way to know is to do what you just did, [ See Stepping Away from a Life of Comfort ] to make the leap and to think about in that process, “Can you define yourself without answering [...]

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