Living in the Cage of Familiarity

by Michelle Lazurek

“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” (John 21:1-4).

Staring at the paperwork in my lap, I scribbled my name on the bottom like a zombie. As I continued through the other short sale documents on our home, just one thought ran through my head: how did I get here?

At that moment, it seemed all was lost. My life was spiraling out of control and I had no way to stop it. No matter how hard we had tried to keep the doors of our church plant open, it was no longer financially feasible. Facing the possibility of having no place to live, my husband had taken a new pastor position. This may have seemed like good news to some, but to me, it was not.

I actually felt more like Jesus had betrayed me. For sixteen years I had faithfully served Him, but toward what end?  Possible homelessness and seemingly no help from Him no matter how much I begged and pleaded? I wanted the church plant to continue: not because I thought it was in God’s plan, but because it was what I knew. I couldn’t bear the risk of moving to a new state, attending a new church, and starting over.

I’ll bet the disciples felt this way, too.  The events of recent days were nothing less than spectacular. They saw Jesus beaten, tormented by His enemies, and finally die a criminal’s death on a cross. Then, in an amazing turn of events, He had appeared to them resurrected from the dead. But now, after traveling to Galilee to meet Him as they were told, there had been no sign of Him. And as the days passed, they began to wonder: had something more happened to Him? Or had He forgotten them?

When we’ve stepped out in faith, it can be difficult to feel God’s presence or to see His hand at work. At points we might even feel abandoned. In that disillusionment, it is a temptation to retreat back to the familiar that we left behind. It is easier to live in the cage of the cozy familiar than step out into the boundless space of the unknown.

That’s what the disciples did. Permanently leaving their old livelihood as Jesus had called them to do suddenly felt like a stretch. So they moved away from the looming uncertainty went back to what they knew. Like many of us, the familiar can feel as good as slipping on a comfortable old pair of slippers: much more pleasant than facing the gaping unfamiliarity of the unknown.

But to abandon what God has called us to is to abandon the great blessings He has in store for us. As difficult as circumstances may be, He intends to use them to draw us into a deeper relationship with Him. To learn on a new level how worthy He is of our trust. To experience His goodness in ways we have not yet experienced.

Although I couldn’t see it that day, God did soon reveal plan far greater than my ideas for the future. He provided a new ministry, with a loving church family and a parsonage which not only provided us with a home, but cut our financial costs in half. This gave us room to pay off our mounting debt and purchase the essentials we desperately needed.

We’re never sorry when we trust in the character of God over our present circumstances. Are you reverting back to the familiar in your life because it is easier than stepping out in faith?

Lord, help me to trust you enough to step out into the unknown instead of living in the cage of familiarity.

michelle lazurekAbout the author: Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, national speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she loves to help people encounter God and engage with the world around them. When not writing, you can find her enjoying a Starbucks latte and collecting vintage records. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com

Join the conversation: Has God asked you to step out into the unknown?