Sunday, July 15, 2007


I am addicted to comfort.

I just got back from church. I heard my pastor speak on belief vs. conviction using Stephen out of Acts. He talked about how, as he meets with people, most will say they believe in Jesus. But he asks the question, "Is that belief a conviction?" Most will then mutter different excuses, but will ultimately land on that it is not a conviction.

A conviction is something that takes over one's life. It takes over the soul and allows nothing else to stand in its way. I was wresting in my own heart this morning, wondering if my belief in Christ stops there, or is it a conviction? As I'm thinking through it, it gets harder because my pastor moves to the idea of martyrdom. It was obvious in Stephen's life that Jesus Christ was no mere belief, someone he tucked away when He wasn't convenient. He was utterly convinced that He was (and is) Lord and that He satisfies the deepest longings of the soul. He was not going to stop heralding this Truth for mere physical persecution.

So what does this have to do with comfort? Well, I live a life free from much discomfort, much less physical persecution because of my faith. I buckle under the pressure of an awkward conversation, of someone giving me a weird look. And I believe this has happened because I don't suffer enough. I live a life filled with comfort and ease. Even right now, I'm typing on my Apple computer, using wireless internet, in the comfort of a condo in Alpharetta, Georgia. Why do I need God? I have everything I need right? Why do I need to trust him for my needs, when I seemingly have everything??

The truth is, I'm thankful for the blessing of these things. But they often become an idol. And in my heart of hearts, I would give it all up if I could just experience the presence of God like that experienced by many I read about, for instance John Paton.

John Paton was a missionary to the New Hebrides in the South Pacific 150 years ago. The island was full of cannibals, and he often was in danger of being killed. This is what he wrote while being hunted one night, as he he took refuge in a tree.
Being entirely at the mercy of such doubtful and vacillating friends, I, though perplexed, felt it best to obey. I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe as in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among those chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior's spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?

Basically, I'm exhausted with comfort, but my flesh still longs for it. I want to know God more fully, and I know suffering is the main way that is going to happen. So, if your my friend, please speak truth into my life about this reality.


  1. Good word, DW. Can't add much to that.

    It seems to me that discipleship doesn't so much mean changING situations as it means changED situations. What I mean by that is: the essence of discipleship is not that we follow Jesus out of our "normal" lives into new careers and countries, but that His presence within us transforms those normal lives into supernatural ones. In other words, within the context of our normal lives, we follow Jesus, we experience Jesus, and we become like Jesus.

    Of course, Jesus may decide at some point to lead us to new careers and countries, but that'll just be an extension of the pattern we've already developed of following Him.

    Not sure if that makes any sense. I've got "slow brain syndrome" this a.m.

  2. that does make sense. good thoughts.

  3. Thank you for your challenging thoughts...I read this as I sat at my wireless laptop amidst the comforts of my own surroundings and felt truly convicted of my complacency....If my life serves to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then may He, indeed, bring on the suffering...I am reminded of Philippians 3:10,11 which says:
    "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
    How many of us truly want to "know" Christ, identify with His death, share in his sufferings.....
    The encouragement is that He doesn't beckon us to STAY there(where He's called us to die), but to embrace the resurrection of His LIFE in us.....praise God!
    I think if we all would spend more time acknowledging our own wretchedness, we would truly come quickly and more often to the cross and be broken......we would be more aware of our need for Christ, and we would definately be far less comfortable....
    Thank you David, for your heart to speak truth from your own life experiences....God is truly shaping your character into His likeness...write on brother!

  4. thanks for the thoughts Kristen. it's good to hear from you, especially with such a great verse like that one.

  5. Hey D-willy, I always like swinging by your blog and being drawn into these deep thoughts discussions.

    As I was reading your take on how comfort links to beliefs and convictions, I started wondering about the actions we take in life. Wouldn't you say that living out a belief as a conviction takes action? I mean, in Stephen's case (and John Paton's for that matter), it wasn't like they CHOSE the life-or-death situations they experienced. Instead, they took action based on convictions and then suffered from the REactions of those around them.

    This is what happened to Jesus in his time on earth, too, right? And really the actions they all have in common are speaking and living out truth and righteousness. And if it comes down to that, I really don't think it has much to do with material possessions--neither the lack NOR the abundance thereof.

    To put it another way, I don't think it was a mistake that you and I or any other comfort-crazed American finds him- or herself born in this country at this point in time. The importance lies in WHAT we do in our circumstances of life. If we begin to feel like X, Y, or Z is becoming an idol--what do we do about that? (For example, would you rather live without a wireless internet connection in your apartment than have it hinder your connection to God?)

    As for the stories of martyrs and missionaries in dangerous places, I challenge all of us to remember that we do not fight flesh and blood in this world. There are plenty of dangers to being an American--they just don't take the same forms as they do in other places/cultures. They're not as visibly obvious or threatening, but they're no less dangerous. And I would certainly say that comfort is perhaps the most dangerous because of its anesthetic effects.

    Sorry for going on so long--it's your own fault for posting such thought-provoking things. :-)

  6. Hey Whitney
    Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your thoughtful thoughts (can I say those two words together?). Basically I agree with what all you had to add. I know that lack of material possessions don't equal great fellowship with God, or vice versa, but they seem to get in the way a lot, especially for me. And, no I don't think that pursuing suffering is what these men did necessarily, they just didn't let that affect their decision to do anything. And I think you're right on about identifying idols and seeking God now in my situation, instead of believing it would be so much easier in another country. More or less, this was a rant against the belief that physical comforts are necessary to enjoy God and the belief that suffering is to be complained about and avoided. Thanks again for the oh so deep thoughts.