Day after day we trudge on the grounds of the familiar. We go to the same places, eat the same food and hang out with the same friends. We’ve worked at the same place for 30 years and lived in the same town even longer. The familiar is everywhere. Then there are those seasons, those times in life where we get an itch we just can’t seem to scratch. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you are full of dissatisfaction and have no idea the root of the issue. Our natural inclination is to do a self-evaluation or a family evaluation and start blaming one, or the other. Either you are slipping or the people around you are. I beg to differ. There are times where God is trying to lead you to something bigger, something better. Times where he is trying to expand your territory and answer the very prayers in which you have been bombarding heaven. There is only one problem. His answer to our request are usually far off the reservation. These expansions and enlarged assignments cannot be found in the ordinary. So that leaves us with the question, “How does one loose the grip of the familiar?
It sounds much easier than it is. I mean as much as I am beginning to feel uncomfortable is as much as I am comfortable. I sense and need change but don’t want to make any drastic moves in order to get it. It’s a catch 22, I’m frustrated here and want change but I’m comfortable with the familiar. Usually the very thing you are trying to hold onto is the very thing God is charging you to relinquish.
Every Monday morning I enjoy taking a nice walk through the neighborhood. I’ll pray, talk to my friends, while photographing scenes in nature. So I awakened this particular morning a little heavy from some personal battles I had been dealing with the previous week and was eager to take my morning walk and clear my head. The more I thought about it, the more unappealing it became. It was like all I could see was the same boring path with the same scenery. Suddenly these things had no appeal. I’ve been in this place of dissatisfaction before but went ahead and pushed past the nudge and stayed on Familiar Street, but this particular morning I opted out.
I’m not a person that has a problem taking risk. Honestly you could probably call me a risk taker but there are times when for whatever reason I can resist going off the reservation. I think maybe during those times I need the safety of the familiar. I believe at those moments God looks down and says, “I have something good for you but I understand you aren’t ready yet.” “ Let’s try again next week.” He so lovingly allows the situation to present itself again and again until I am ready to jump and He is always there to catch me.
That morning the ordinary was so drab nothing could keep me there. So I began to think where in the world will I go? Then it hits me a place named Swallow Cliff a friend of mine invited me to a few months prior but I was unable to attend. I put on my fitness clothes and left so fast you couldn’t see my shadow. Suddenly I was pumped with excitement and apprehension. Swallow Cliff is just that, a cliff. It is in the middle of an 800-acre forest preserve. It is a set of two very steep steps. One side has 168 stairs while the other has 125 stairs, which are much steeper and more difficult to climb.
So the adventure begins…I hit the interstate and headed in the direction of the park. After about a 25-minute drive, and taking a slight detour I arrived. I saw fitness gurus of every age, race, and color. Everyone had one goal in mind, getting to the top of this cliff in one piece. I began my journey by scoping out the place and taking plenty of pictures.
Amazingly the heaviness I once felt was replaced with utter excitement. The athlete in me was ready for the new challenge and ready to ascend the stairs. After my personal photo shoot of the area I began my journey. Full of excitement I approached each step like a ninja warrior. “I got this.” I thought. By the time I finally reached the top I was breathing like I’d just run a marathon but was smiling from ear to ear because of my new experience. So I took a break and proceeded to go down and was daring enough to try a couple more times until my legs informed me they were not in that kind of shape. Oh how I wanted to ascend again and again but I knew that was it for the day. I had stepped out the box and met a new challenge, a challenge that awakened me and brought excitement.
Since I had stepped out of one box I thought why not another. I proceeded to find a walking trail and began walking on a trail that led me to some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. I went into full photographer mode. Full of joy and excitement I walked and discovered many photo worthy scenes. Then low and behold right in the middle of my discovery there is a message for me in spray paint on the overpass. It read, “You’re gonna be happy!” says Life “But first, I’ll make you strong.” Oh joy hit my heart like a ton of bricks. As if just coming to this beautiful place was not enough God had hidden a message for me along the journey.
That morning I was so heavy, wondering where was God, and warring with my thoughts then God sends me a message that clears everything up but only after I got out of my box. I can hear someone saying, “Well why couldn’t God just send you the message at home or on your regular trail?” Because he’s God! God is more interested in our obedience and he had tucked away a great adventure in it. Sure I could have stayed on my normal path and God probably would have comforted me because he loves me that much, but the adventure, the challenge, and the gift he wanted to give me would have never been discovered. God had prescheduled a day of delight to overshadow the darkness that was trying to overcome me. One simple act of obedience ended up being one of the most enjoyable days I had that month.
Since this encounter I have been challenged weekly to pull away from the safe and comfortable and go on journeys with God. Each excursion has failed to disappoint and have brought revelation to me at a deeper level. You see just like my original trail was great to walk on for a season but pressing pass the ordinary reveals much greater gifts and revelations. I believe these mini-trips are just a prophetic picture of the season to come. God is calling us out of comfortable places. I can just hear some of you, “ I don’t want to speak in front of people,” while others are flat out saying, “I don’t want to do that.” But my friend, God is saying come out into the deep where there is no safety net; you can’t see the bottom and you are always unsure of where you are going. Then, maybe then, you will relinquish control and are ready to embark upon an extraordinary life. Anyone that has ever done great things learned to go into the deep and walk on water. Let go of the safe familiar shallow ground and launch out into the deep! You’ll find hidden treasure there.
Author: Petrina Milan