When Comfortable Becomes Deadly
I just finished a devotion from a good friend, Lysa TerKeurst, and it caught me like a mouse in a mousetrap! She had three words, “Certain, Comfortable, Predictable.” I don’t about you but I like those words—a lot. Who doesn’t like certainty? And I revel in my comfortable pillow, bed and recliner! Then there is predictability, something we cannot quite manage but we do try and it’s good to think that we have all our ducks in a row that won’t upset our plans. (This certainly doesn’t include weather predictions!)
May I aks, “How’s that working out for you?” I can guess—“not quite what we’d like”—right? Who wants surprises around every corner?! But that is life and I truly do believe that these “upsets” in our plans are God-divined “oops.” Why? Because once we become too sure of ourselves and too comfortable, we then become more complacent and complacency is a deadly recipe for body, soul and mind.
Lysa used the metaphor of wine—I get that. I enjoy a good deep red Zin or Syrah. Pouring it out into other “vessels” lets it breathe and enhances the flavor. But left unused and re-corked in the same bottle too long, now you have vinegar. Of course, that encourages one to finish the bottle and that’s not always healthy either! But you get what I mean. Stale wine is bad wine and can be physically upsetting as well.
Wine is used often in the Bible for a lot of reasons, but in Jeremiah’s day, God used it as a metaphor to show what happens when a whole nation becomes “too comfortable and certain of themselves.” Perhaps maybe what we are going through now here in the USA (then oops, a pandemic upends everything). Listen to God’s word to Jeremiah in Chapter 48:11-12 (CEV):
From early on Moab has been at ease, like wine left to settle on its sediment.
It hasn’t been poured into jars; nor has Moab been taken into exile.
Therefore, its taste is still pleasant and its aroma is the same.
But the time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will send to him
someone to spill it—to pour out his wine and to smash his jars.
For Moab, on the surface, everything looked just fine, a great comfortable place to live, a certainty that each day will be easy-peasy and predictable—perhaps so predictable that it was a sure prediction that they could be easily caught off-guard! The “ouch” in this story is that God was the “catch-them-off-guard-interrupter” of their comfy and complacent attitudes and lifestyles. God intended to wake them up and indeed, if you read the rest of the chapter, you’ll find out that is exactly what happened.
Why? I think it’s because God knows this kind of living is not good for us, despite the fact that most think it’s just makes life the best-ever. Actually, in God’s plans, there is suffering, and hardships. We don’t get to live without disappointment or difficulty. (Just read the Bible on this one!) My first response to God’s plan on this is “UGH.” But then I have to go back to the wine metaphor. Even if you don’t open the bottle, wine is only going to last so long—even in the best of wine coolers. Soon or later the cork breaks down, seals loosen, sediments pile up and taint the fruits and if the temperature varies too much—suffice it to say the great taste is forever LOST.
You and I won’t last either, and we will get terribly lost if we’re too comfy or complacent. We will miss blessings and opportunities to use the gifts and talents God has given us. And worse than that, we’ll become “stale wine” in our relationship with God. We’ll lose strength when suffering and hardships come and our prayer-life will be all-but-absent.
I get concerned for my family—not just my biological family, but my church family and all people who belong to God’s family (whether they choose to be or not.) We are saturated with having stuff; we are set on riches of money instead of the riches of God, and we have lost our strength as people of God in an ever-increasing-secular society. Our comfy choices are becoming deadly and we don’t even realize the disconnect we’ve created from the loving touch of God!
I needed Lysa’s devotion today to wake me up, to be the “Princess and the Pea” and become uncomfortable in some of the things I’m doing in my life. How easy it is to be lulled into a false sense of security—and this is one of the major tools the devil savors to use to pull us away from our faith and connection with God.
I could write a novel on what we should do but I think we all already know what we need to do! We have our heads buried in the “sands of our life” when we should be like the Ostrich who digs out the sand, lays her eggs there, and then several times a day puts her head in the sand, turns the eggs, checks them over and tenderly takes care of them until the chicks are born. Think of your life this way, it needs to be tended, and yes-God sometimes turns it because we’re headed in the wrong direction, but we remain steadfast and continue tending, nurturing and following God’s direction.
I would be remiss in not finishing what happened to the Moabites. When they were conquered by the Babylonians in 582 BC, the Moabites completely disappeared from history…they are no more…end of story—ouch indeed. I don’t want that and I’m sure neither do you. It’s not a threat, it is what happens when we lose touch with our Lord and Savior.
Let’s allow God to get rid of our “sediment” and “pour our wine into new vessels.” Let’s pray and ask God to take out this deadly recipe of ego-certainty, selfish comfort and living-in-a-rut-predictability. It may be uncomfortable for a while but truly, that is the only way we can be better prepared and ready to live the life God intended for us.
And think about this—then we can be a beacon of the Light of Christ and a bearer of the Good news of God’s grace, love and mercy to all who need it! Now wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to live? AMEN.