Authored by Marie Story
I often hear people talking about “getting out of your comfort zone.” I hate hearing that. I admit, I like my comfort zones. I don’t like doing new things—especially if it’s something I don’t understand or don’t think I’ll do well at. I find it really difficult to take risks, even calculated risks, because risks are scary and uncomfortable.
Lately, however, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, and in that setting, I very quickly start to feel overwhelmed. It’s not the work that I’m afraid of. It’s the idea. I start thinking about the magnitude of some project or venture, and I start to shrivel inside, mentally backing away in fear.
I was discussing a concept for a new project with a friend a while back, and he was explaining his ideas. Now he’s the type of guy who thinks big, detailed, and long-term—he’s definitely not scared off by the work or the risks. In fact, for him, the bigger and crazier, the better. He was laying out his plan and automatically my mind started shutting down, shrinking back and going into “overwhelmed” mode. My eyes started to glaze over, and he noticed.
“Well …” I stammered, while trying to look supportive, “umm … it’s a good plan, but it seems a bit big, a bit overwhelming to me.”
“You know, everything seems to overwhelm you right now. Maybe you just need a bit more faith.”
It was true (though I didn’t like to admit it), so I went to talk to the Lord about it. He confirmed that yes, I was a bit of a wimp faith-wise, and I needed to buff up. He gave me a three-step faith-building plan, so I thought I’d share it with you—free of charge:
Step one: feed your faith. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.1 If we want solid faith, we need to give it a hefty Word diet. Just like our bodies can’t survive on a diet of junk food—or even on an occasional good meal—our faith won’t survive, much less thrive, unless we’re faithful to take in good, spiritually feeding input.
Read things that feed your faith. The Bible is bursting with promises that God has made to us. I bet if you looked, you could find a promise for any problem you run into or any challenge you’re facing. When your heart is full of God’s promises, your faith won’t be easily shaken.
Step two: strengthen your faith. Our faith will never thrive when everything’s comfortable—when all our needs are supplied ahead of time, when we can handle the work on our own, when we know what’s ahead—that’s when we’re fine carrying all the weight. It’s when things are difficult, and when we can’t carry the load, that our faith is strengthened, because we have to hand the load over and trust.
Proverbs 3:5 says to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding,”2 or your own strength. That means put your weight down. And as we do that—as we depend more on Jesus and put our trust in His promises—our faith will become stronger.
And step three: stretch your faith. Once your faith has been strengthened, then it’s time to step out to do those things that seem overwhelming. In other words, get out of your comfort zone. Once again, faith doesn’t have the chance to grow when everything is flowing along as usual. Sometimes difficulties or challenges come along on their own, but if you really want your faith to grow, you need to be willing to stretch as well and choose to try new things that you’re not sure of.
When you read through stories in the Bible, you’ll see that while sometimes people were put in difficult situations where their faith had to be stretched, other times God waited for them to stretch before He pulled out the bigger miracles. Some of the most incredible stuff took place when people stepped out to do something crazy.
For example, when Jesus was walking on the water toward His disciples, most of them were just happy that the storm had stopped.3 That was a great miracle, and it strengthened their faith. But the really awesome story—the one everyone remembers—started when Peter took that literal step of faith out of the boat onto the water. He didn’t have to do that. But I bet it ended up being a massive boost to his faith.
So, what’s the point of stronger faith? Jesus said that faith the size of a mustard seed could do big things. And sometimes that’s all we can muster, and at those times, He’ll use what we’ve got.
I think, though, that He doesn’t expect our faith to stay that tiny. I think He expects our faith to grow as we see Him come through for us time and time again. I think He wants us to feed our faith so that it grows and blossoms and starts bearing fruit.
God’s got big plans for each of us, and He brings steps along the way to prepare us for those plans. However, it takes faith to step out and reach toward those plans (whether we understand them or not), to take action and start building on what God wants for us. If we hold back until everything’s “safe,” we may miss out.
One definition of faith is “confidence or trust in another’s ability.” Faith is knowing that we’re incapable in ourselves, but still doing what God asks of us because we trust in His ability to work through us.
So how’s your faith doing? Could it use some strengthening? If so, try out this handy-dandy faith-building program, or ask God for one of your own. I can’t say that my faith is an impressive specimen just yet—in fact, I’ve still got a long way to go. I am, however, starting to look at each “overwhelming” situation as a great chance for a faith workout!
1 Romans 10:17.
2 New Living Translation.
3 Matthew 14:22-33.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2011 by The Family International