On a recent trip to Africa, I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite things in the world—go on a safari.
There is something so unique and exciting about encountering animals in their natural habitat. Instead of standing on the other side of a cage at a zoo, we rode in a Jeep with open sides, completely exposed to the heat, the dust, and the landscape of the African savannah.
Our group was amazed. We were all so excited to see such beautiful and powerful animals up close. But, as we neared our time to leave and head to the airport, we were slightly disappointed because we hadn’t seen many elephants. You would think that such large animals would be easy to find, but we drove around and searched for them for three hours. On our way out, we finally came upon a group of them. We were surrounded by adult and baby elephants. Unfortunately, we were running late, so we didn’t have time to linger.
After pausing for a few minutes, the Jeep charged ahead a little more quickly than usual, and the elephants responded. One elephant began to charge our vehicle, so we stopped immediately. The elephant stopped but stood ready, his eyes on the Jeep. I applied a death grip to my seat, as I watched this elephant poised and ready to charge my side of the vehicle. My heart raced, and I held my breath. When it seemed the elephant had calmed down, we slowly drove away, out of the present (terrifying and exciting) danger.
At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, I have to be honest: After this type of experience, it’s hard for me to enjoy the zoo.
There is just something about seeing an animal in it’s natural habitat. The element of risk involved creates a feeling in me that I don’t experience on the other side of the metal bars that stand between me and the elephants at the zoo.
The same thing happens to me when I witness God at work and see Him move in the hearts and lives of people. I’m no longer satisfied with the mediocre and mundane when I experience God in a new way. I’m confident the same is true for you. It makes me ask this question: Have institutions done to us what zoos do to animals? Have the structures we put in place diminished our boldness to be obedient to God’s calling on our lives? We take away most of the risk with the goal of creating a safer space, but in the process, we suppress our uniqueness and fail to exercise the gifts God has given us.
Too many businesses make people leave their personality at the door.
Too many offices create a culture that rewards routine over innovation.
Too many schools force their students to give up creativity to color inside the lines.
Too many colleges mandate a curriculum of checklists instead of a training ground for the real world.
Too many churches allow Christians to give up their calling for the comfort of the pew.
I think most of us live in a box…willingly.
We do everything we can to make our lives comfortable. We allow our culture, rather than our convictions, to dictate the course of our lives. Sure, these lives feel safer, but they’re not the lives we were meant to live.
As believers, we all have a calling that’s clear in God’s Word. Here’s Jesus’ final charge to His disciples in Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We’re called to go, to be bold, and to share the gospel, but Jesus knows we’re tempted to stay comfortable and silent. That’s why in the same charge, He promises to be with us, so we can pursue our calling without fear.
So many of us sacrifice this call for what makes us comfortable. Like animals in a zoo, we’ve forfeited what makes us wild and unique to walk willingly into a cage of comfort and ease. Whether you work in a coffee shop, a cubicle, or a corner office, you have a calling on your life! Don’t give in to a pattern of stability to forfeit the future we were created to pursue.