November 2015 Final Issue
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A Thrilling Invitation

“Jesus, please make me uncomfortable.”

Wait, where did that come from? How did that slip out? Let’s try this again.

“Jesus, please give me all the things I want, at the proper time that I have appointed, and please try to do it all without stretching me too much. Love, Jon.”

That’s better…although it reads a little too much like a letter I wrote to Santa when I was a kid.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the last year, and while I don’t remember the specific book, I remember that it was making me feel a little convicted about my relationship with Christ. I’ve been learning more and more about hearing His voice and allowing Him to enter into the locked-up places of my heart and to bring His healing, and I’ve absolutely loved it! It’s amazing! The peace, the restoration…it’s just…so good! But this book, whatever it was, was making me feel like there might be another layer yet to be discovered. There might be more that God wanted to do in my life if I was willing to let Him. And so one morning this past summer, in the midst of a prayer of thanks for all that He was doing in my life, I remember this little request slipping out without any conscious thought:

“Jesus, please make me uncomfortable.”

Uh-oh.

What did I just ask for?  What did I just give Him permission to do?

Are there “take-backs” in praying?

The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it was exactly what my heart really wanted. My head was fighting back for all it was worth, but in my heart, I knew that more than anything else, I wanted a relationship with Jesus that truly stretched me and grew me and made me uncomfortable…and uncomfortable in a way that I didn’t get to dictate.

The invitation was and is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, and it brings to mind the passage from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Young Lucy has just been told about the existence of Aslan, the lion, and she’s understandably a little nervous. She asks, “Is he safe?” Much to her initial horror, the response is, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe! He’s a lion! But he’s good.”

I realized that I really did like my Jesus to be safe because I honestly wasn’t sure what to do if He wasn’t.  If I let Him out of the religious box I’d been keeping Him in, what might He do that I wasn’t prepared for or okay with? Did I really believe He was good? Did I really believe that He was for my good?

In the months that have followed, I have had to do a lot of confessing. Jesus has very gently shown me that I don’t really trust Him to come through for me. More often than not, when push comes to shove, I feel like I’m going to have to take care of myself and, hopefully, He’ll just be there in the background cheering me on. I feel like He’ll ask me to do something I can’t do…or will hate…or that will bring me shame, embarrassment, judgment, or ridicule from others. My head says, “No, I know God loves me and will always take care of me,” but my worry, fear, and doubt betray the true nature of my heart’s belief.

Looking at Scripture, I realize how often God allows for…and even seems to prefer…doing things that we see as uncomfortable in order to grow our faith in Him. Even in this, He shows us His willingness to go before us. God the Father leads Jesus into the wilderness and has Him fast for 40 days before being tempted by Satan. Talk about discomfort! The temptation doesn’t occur immediately after Jesus’ baptism, still fresh from the Spirit’s anointing and surrounded by close friends and His cousin, John the Baptist.  No, God in the flesh is made tremendously uncomfortable so that His faith in His Father can be proven true and demonstrated to us (Luke 4).

God doesn’t get Moses’ attention in his nice comfy palace in Egypt…He takes him out into the wilderness and up the side of a mountain and then sets a bush on fire to get his attention and give him his mission. Talk about amazing and uncomfortable. And Moses’ faith grew (Exodus 3).

God could have waited until after Mary and Joseph had wed, sparing them both the discomfort of society’s judgments, and then impregnated her with His Son. Mary wouldn’t have had to worry about Joseph’s reaction. Joseph wouldn’t have had to deal with feelings of doubt and rejection. But God allowed them to be uncomfortable and they obeyed. And their faith and belief in Him grew (Luke 1).

Noah is warned of an impending flood and tasked with building an immense ark when all of the physical evidence around him indicated this was a fool’s errand. He obeys. And the faith of Noah and his whole family grew (Genesis 6).

Gideon is called “mighty hero” while hiding from his enemies, told to tear down his father’s altar, and is later asked to whittle his army of  32,000 down to 300 before going into battle…with horns and torches.  He obeys. And the faith of Gideon and all of his men grew (Judges 6-7).

Joshua is given Jericho, not through strength of arms, but by obediently marching around the walls seven times and then shouting. He obeys. And the faith of Joshua and two whole generations of Israel grew (Joshua 6, 24:31).

God has made me very uncomfortable in the last year or so. It’s come in little ways like praying out loud at meals in front of my family…or in front of large groups of people in classes or conferences. It’s come in big ways like when He told my wife to quit her job, leaving us with one (unsustainable, in my mind) income. I’ve felt it every time He’s told me to write an article because my initial feeling is always, “But who am I, Lord? I don’t have anything to say.”

I already know there’s another round of discomfort coming my way because my discipleship group is talking about allowing ourselves to be led by the Spirit to walk up to total strangers and pray with them. And doing it more than once! Just thinking about it makes my stomach flip.

It’s terrifying and exciting to ask the question, “Jesus, what do You want me to do? Where do You want me to go?” Because He just might answer.

He might say read My Word. Forgive your mother. Change your job. Bake a cake for your neighbor. Sell your house and move to Ghana. Give $100 to that random person over there on that bench.

It might be uncomfortable.

But imagine what He must have in store for us if we’re willing to trust and obey.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good, and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, NLT).

He doesn’t promise us that we’re going to be comfortable.

He doesn’t promise us that it’s safe.

But we are promised that He is good.

If you’re ready to be uncomfortable you can pray like this:

Jesus, I confess that I’m scared to pray this, but please, make me uncomfortable. I want to be stretched, Lord. I want to live a life that allows me to see You at work in ways that completely expose and shatter my unbelief and allow my faith in You to grow to levels that I can’t even imagine. Jesus, I give You permission to make me uncomfortable, to lead me down whatever path You choose. I want Your plan for my life because I know it will be good.

Jesus, what lies do I believe about You that are getting in the way? What am I afraid of? Jesus, help me to confess these lies and these fears to You and to be set free from them.

Lord, what is true about You? What truth do I need to hear from You?

Jesus, what area of my life do You want to address first? What’s the first thing You want me to do?

Thank You, Lord, for the promise of a life to the full. Thank You for teaching me, for helping me to trust, for forgiving me when I doubt, and for leading me into the life that You’ve prepared for me. I love You.

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About Jon Ackerman

Jon Ackerman
Jon is a Midwestern transplant who now lives in Sterling, Virginia, with his amazing wife Brooke and their three dogs. He has taught world history to high schoolers for the last 10 years, and enjoys filling his spare hours with international travel, reading, hunting, and riding his motorcycle (when it’s working).

2 comments

  1. Margaret Carlson

    What an amazing journey you must be having with our Lord! Your article has such depth and understanding of His Word.

  2. Brooke Ackerman

    I’m so proud of you! And I’m honored that I get to be on this amazing journey with you. Always on your team, love!

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