We all enjoy being comfortable; feeling safe. Even after moving across the “big pond” (in my dad’s words) I still find a way to crawl back into my comfort zone. I have lived in Accra for over a year now. What was once foreign has now become the norm. In the beginning of my journey I was overwhelmed with a new culture and with my first year of teaching. Sitting down to write a blog about life here has never been easy, but it was a lot easier when everything was new and different. Living and teaching here is no longer different, it’s just life. This has been a pattern throughout my life. It is hard at first when I am thrown into a new season in life, but somehow no matter which corner of the globe I am living in, I still find my comfort zone. It follows me.
I know this sounds backwards. Comfort zones are usually referred to as a safe place, the opposite of dangerous. Why is it a bad thing to feel safe? Doesn’t God want us to have peace and safety? Recently God has been revealing to me the danger of the comfort zone.
As I dive deeper into His word, He has shown me all of those that He has worked through that have been thrown out of their comfort zone. I can’t think of anybody, including Jesus, who was comfortable at carrying out God’s will. Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jeremiah, Mary, Peter, and on and on and on. All thought they were not qualified and question why God was choosing them. Recently a pastor came to my church here in Ghana and spoke about Peter walking on water. I have heard and read this story countless times but not once thought about the other disciples on the boat. Jesus did not say “Peter, come walk to me” he said “Come”. He wasn’t just inviting Peter but all of His disciples and Peter was the one to accept the invitation. Matthew 14:22-33
Many of us think that walking on water is for other people. We would rather sit in the boat where it is safe and cheer “those people” on. I would rather fry some plantain, scroll through Instagram and like other peoples’ posts about the outreach they doing in their communities than get up and get involved in the community around me. I like the seat in the boat near the front where I don’t get seasick and have a nice breeze. God has asked me to step out of that spot and onto the water multiple times. Each time I listen and dip my toes a little deeper but always retreat to that same spot, the comfortable, safe one. I like to watch the others step out, especially those who step out and walk on the water for a while, praise Jesus with them…in my seat, watching from afar. But what I am forgetting is that we all have the power through Jesus to get up and walk on the water. He is calling all of us. It’s just a matter of listening.
So this time when I found myself slipping back into that comfortable seat here in Ghana I asked God to open my ears to listen to Him. Listen to Him when he is asking me to GET UP. This is how he has answered that prayer.
- I have one of the biggest/enthusiastic (best in my opinion) classes in our school. I spent most the summer praying about this class worrying about my ability to manage this class. The first quarter has been difficult, yes, but not near as challenging as I thought it would be. I became more confident and comfortable. So God sent two new girls from Japan with no English to join my class. He has taught me to rely on Him rather than my own ability. They read their first English book last week!
- I have always loved working with elementary students. I have so much experience working with kids with summer camps, teaching, and daycare . I have never been interested in working with middle schoolers. or high schoolers not because I don’t like them, but because I didn’t think I would be good at communicating with kids that were taller than me. I was comfortable and content with my elementary students. So God asked me to co-coach the high school girls’ basketball team and be a leader for our church youth. I have learned to rely on Him rather than my own experience and ability. I was able to watch eight of our youth be baptized! He is so good!!
- I have been a Christian for a while now. I gave my life to Christ in early high school. Jesus has completely flipped my life upside down since that day. He has given me joy, purpose, the ability to love and forgive others, a relationship for eternity with my Father and Creator, and so much more. God asks us to believe and then be baptized. I was baptized as a baby, and am incredibly thankful for my parent’s commitment to raise me as a Christian. However, I was not able to understand who Jesus is and believe in Him as a baby. God has continued to give me opportunities to be baptized as a believer. But I was already a Christian, already reborn. I didn’t understand why I needed to be baptized and worried what others would think. Even Jesus was baptized because it was the right thing to do “to fulfill all righteousness”. But I was comfortable in my walk with Christ and didn’t think I needed to be baptized. So God asked me to teach my students about Jesus’ baptism and asked me to be baptized again. This time I said yes. God has used my story, my baptism to speak to so many people around me. My act of obedience as a way to share His love with so many others.
The bible never says how long Peter walked on water. We don’t often read the story and think about how amazing it is that Peter walked on water. We just think about his doubt, how Jesus had to save him because he sank. He sank when he realized how crazy it was that he was walking on water. When he took his eyes off Jesus, looked at the waves and wind and started to think “I can’t do this”. If we continue to live our lives based on our own ability then we begin to sink. We begin to get scared and crawl back into that comfortable seat because we know that we can handle anything that comes our way in our comfort zone. Here lies the danger. If we continue to rely on ourselves then we are not allowing God to work through us (to walk on water). We are closing ourselves off to learning more about Him and seeing Him work through us and others.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
- Students and families connected to AIS who don’t know Christ
- Hope City-my church in Accra just moved into a new building for more space to grow!
- NEON Youth group-about 30 kids ages 11-18. That God would use us as vessels for these kids
My Wonderful third grade class!
Hope City, NEON Youth
Adventures in Togo, absolutely beautiful.