Beyond My Comfort Zone…

“Crecendo,” ©2018 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

““Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

©2018 Lynn Abbott

“The ocean is peaceful,” my artist friend said confidently.

And I nodded in agreement.

But I also had to smile.  You see, in my friend’s experience, the sea is a gentle and soothing space.

Indeed. She has spent many years living on the east coast of the United States.

For this reason, her primary coastal experience has been with the Atlantic ocean.

My father, the oceanographer-geologist, would have explained it this way… the the wide continental shelf creates a gradual and gentle slope from the ocean floor to the East coast shores.

Thus, since there are no stony obstacles to hinder “sea meeting shore”, the waves generally tend to roll gently.

But I have seen another side.

Having grown up on the west coast, I have also encountered an entirely different kind of ocean wave.

One Saturday in my mid-twenties, my husband–at that time, simply my date–invited me to join him with a few friends on a beach adventure.

His friends, avid surfers, had heard that because of storms off the coast, the waves would be reaching “ideal” heights near San Clemente, California.

And so it was that on that particular Saturday morning, we tied the boards to the roof of the car, and drove north… to catch some waves.

Although my cousins had surfed all their lives, I had never learned.  I simply planned to enjoy the beach and perhaps, body surf.

But I have seen another side.

Upon arrival, I noted that the reports of larger than normal waves were truly accurate.  But that didn’t stop any of us.

We knew that the blend of incoming storms with California’s narrow Continental Shelf would create what we all agreed were the perfect surfing conditions.

My dates’ friends paddled out.  My future husband and I decided to give body surfing a try.  I stood waist deep waiting for the perfect wave to move toward me.

When the timing was right, I started swimming toward shore.  And sure enough, the wave came.  But my timing was off.

Suddenly, I found myself dragged under by the sheer force of the wave’s pull.  It bounced me again and again like a yo-yo.  The water pushed me down, slamming me against the gritty Pacific shoreline.

I scrambled and clawed my way… attempting to move toward shore or at least come up for air. But the wave hit me hard.  I plummeted several times before the wave spit me out on the beach.

I gasped for breath.  As I stood up, I brushed myself off.  But there was no redeeming this.

No ladylike escape.  My racing suit filled with sand, my head wrapped in seaweed– I appeared more Michelin Man than twenty-something woman.

Yup.  The ocean displayed its power that day. And it roared as it crashed upon the sand.

Perhaps, youthful inexperience and over-confidence persuaded us that we could master those waves.

But experience yielded wisdom…

I appeared more Michelin Man than twenty-something woman.

We packed up our towels and boards not long after our arrival.  The Pacific– or so-called peaceful–Ocean could not be mastered or contained.

As my Dad would have attested,  the sea is many things: sometimes peaceful, certainly life-giving and often overwhelmingly powerful.

A seeming contradiction, it is a safe haven and perfect habitat for many creatures despite its vast size and seemingly unpredictable nature.

Nevertheless, it remains constant; unified while simultaneously offering much variety of experience…

One could spend a lifetime studying the sea and still never fully plumb its depths or complexity.

That’s right.  You know where I’m going with this.

When I ponder our Creator, I recognize that His Being is so much more complex than His creation.

And, in fact, when I base my understanding of Him on one experience or a few favorite Scripture passages, I form a woefully inadequate portrait of the great I AM.

However, if I’m completely honest,  I must say that it is easier to embrace images of Yahweh as loving Shepherd  than as indisputable Sovereign and Judge over all.

Even so, Scripture indicates that He is all this and more.

The Prophet Isaiah, in fact, wrote, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).

And then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,  Isaiah also penned the following, “Behold the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, And His recompense before Him.  Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arms He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes, ” (Isaiah 40:12-15).

The prophet describes both Shepherd and Ruler… compassionate Savior but also righteous Judge.

Our Creator is so much more complex than His creation.

Of course, I love the description of my Savior’s tender and sacrificial love for us, (Philippians 2:5-11).

On the other hand, I prefer to skim over the description of Isaiah’s fear as he encountered our Holy Creator, (Isaiah 6). I tremble when I read God’s words to Job, (Job 38-40).

Uh, huh. I’d like to simply bury my feet in the Atlantic coast’s warm, soft sand.

I’d rather camp out comfortably.

And quite honestly, I suspect that most of us try to balance the incomprehensible with the secure known.

Thus, while human nature seeks the challenge of variety,  we simultaneously wish to control and contain risk.

Uh, huh. We abandon the surf when risks prove too high.

However, in the end, as the accounts of many saints–including Jonah and Job–demonstrate,  I cannot play it safe with God.

Yahweh is both Shepherd and Ruler… compassionate Savior but also righteous Judge.

C.S. Lewis says it well in his classic children’s tale: Aslan isn’t tame.

Like the powerful surf, God sweeps into my life, and everything starts tumbling.  I cling to my safe itinerary, but my feet are swept out from under me.  Abba’s omnipotent plan carries me despite my resistance.

His wave rolls me right out of my comfort zone. I lose my sense of direction. His Will prevails.

Water envelops me.

My life is turned upside down… sand swirls overhead, and the sky seems to drop underfoot.   At such times, I certainly feel as though I am going under.

As a result, I kick and scream; I flail my arms about.  I sputter and swallow salt water… That is, until I eventually call for mercy…and allow God to carry me.

And suddenly, I am tossed ashore.

When I finally have a look about, I realize that I’ve been relocated; my lifescape has been rearranged.

Have you noticed it, too? Without a doubt, God’s purposes often move us out of our comfort zones.  He directs us to deeper waters despite our objections.

Without a doubt, God’s purposes often move us out of our comfort zones.

All powerful and untamed, He rearranges our lives.  His plans supersede ours.

Yet, despite the fact that you and I may find ourselves on paths we would not personally choose, Abba walks with us.  He gently guides His children. He carries us to shore.

The same God who allows the storm also commands, ‘Peace be still.’

In fact, we can be sure that Abba always intervenes at just the right time.  And He always knows precisely where He is leading us.

Yes, Abba isn’t tame, but we can surely trust Him.

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the LORD is a God of justice. How blessed are all those who long for Him,” Isaiah 30:18

“And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth,” Job 19:25

“But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold,” Job 23:10

105 Replies to “Beyond My Comfort Zone…”

  1. I love your descriptions of the shore lines. I too was raised with yearly vacations on the Atlantic shore and a year in Orange county, California. The west coast cannot match the beauty and shoreline of the east coast. Your artwork is beautiful and your heart to describe how our God is I AM to us in all the calm and days of waves. Thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course you are familiar with both the east and west coast beaches, dear Denise! I would have expected as much! Love that fully share my love of the sea! Thank you so much for your kind encouragement and words here. May I ask? Where did you grow up that you had yearly vacations to the Atlantic shore? And which beach was your favorite? It is difficult for me to choose which I love best. I love the soft golden sand of the east coast; however, the power and majesty of the wave as they hit the rocky coastlines of the west coast are truly awe-inspiring. 🙂 Love and hugs to you, dear Denise!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Lynn 😊 Sorry so long to get back. I was out mowing ❤️ My Dad was born in South Boston so our summer vacations were spent on “the Cape” Cape Cod as they say. New Jersey vacations were spent in Wildwood. Sweet memories of early Spring weekend trip to find a house to rent for Dad’s last two weeks in August vacation. Living in Philadelphia trips to the Jersey shore was something we did as breathing 😊 Walk the Boards, Sunday day trips to eat dinner at Zabers, whenever my parents wanted to take the once “Sunday” drive. My BFF family had a house in Sea Isle and I was often invited to join them too❤️ Later Wildwood became to crowded and my parents switch to the Chesapeake Bay. They eventually built a shore view home. The beaches on the Eastern shore we’re narrow and nothing like the beauty of the Atlantic ocean. California, to me, the water was too cold. Yes, I remember now that you remind me the waves were mighty. My step-daugther vacations in Ocean City, Maryland and we have enjoyed the beaches but it is a hard, long 3 hour drive to get there. The Jersey shore only a 45 to 60 minute drive from Philly. I will always be a Jersey Shore girl and Ocean City, New Jersey is more of a family town today and given a choice I would pick this as my favorite. Dad being raised on water always brought us to water. Now, believe it or not, I live in a “land locked” State now. Would I sell all and move to the Jersey shore down the road? It would be hard to move back to lots of people, but oh how the Ocean is part of my heart ❤️ My husband is not crazy about the Ocean life. He was an open space kind of guy and we have dug our roots in deep here. Maybe this is why he willingly sends me off to be a Galilean whenever the Lord opens the door ❤️❤️❤️ Gheezee, I hope this didn’t bore you😊. I love your Dad was an Ocean guy❤️ Thanks Lynn, good to share with you 😊😊❤️ xoxo

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      2. Oh, not to worry, dear Denise…as you can see, I’m a bit poky in my responses…so not to fear 🙂 I love that you have grown up in the Northeast! Ocean City is delightful! I love the beautiful golden,sandy Atlantic beaches. When my husband and I first moved to the east coast and I spied an Atlantic beach for the first time, I was absolutely amazed by its beauty! We share so many similar heart longings…for the sea, for Israel… and of course, for our Savior! You are truly a soulsis’ And no…you do not bore me with your wonderful comment! I love getting to know you better! You are a gem! ❤ and huge hugs!

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  2. Oh, how I relate, Lynn!! I have no idea what I am doing in the ocean and being in it scares me because it is unpredictable. Pretty similar to my life I think. Powerful way of combining the two in a post. God definitely sends me out of my comfort zone, or He allows me to be out when life (the wages of sin) brings its burdens and stress. But praise Him for never leaving 🙂 at least He holds our hand. ❤

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  3. Reblogged this on The Recovering Legalist and commented:
    Lynn is equally as wonderful with words as she is with paint: colors on canvas are made more vivid with every stroke of the keyboard. Enjoy the beauty of both in one post, then make sure you visit her blog.

    And remember, Christmas is just around the corner – I can find a bland wall 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Anthony… you are so very kind! Thank you; thank you for re-blogging my post! I am truly honored by your goodness! And as far as Christmas goes… I am currently working on putting together archival quality prints of some of my work… I hope to get that up and running before Christmas. So, never mind the RedBubble stuff. It’s old and I’d like to offer something of better quality. 😉 Maybe, I will have to do a give-away drawing for a print or painting… just for you, my friend! God bless you and yours beyond all that you can imagine!! You are truly a blessing to me and mine! 🙂

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  4. You’re such a good artist little sister … really beautiful paintings and ‘very’ real too.

    Anyway, your stories are just as beautifully encompassing. (Michelin man – ha)! I could well imagine the scene, all pride gone and fear replaced with indignation…

    For me, I think the encompassing word is ‘respect.’ It’s a word that’s lost it’s meaning over this side of the pond where all the ‘clever people’ believe they have tamed all the elements – but they haven’t, as disasters often prove.

    Anyway, take 11/10. Well done xx

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    1. I love it, Warren! Yes! You understand my art and my sense of humor! I only wish that my family and I still lived on the other side of the pond and that we could meet up with you for a lovely meal at a local pub. What a wonderful time we would have sharing our hearts and thoughts about our relationship with Abba! You encourage and inspire me with your steadfast faith and grace! I’m so thankful that God led me to your wonderful blog. Your writings bring such comfort! God bless you beyond all that you can imagine, my wonderful friend! 🙂 🙂

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  5. What to do when sleepless? Read (or reread) a Lynn Abott post! You’ve captured my heart state once again. Maybe it’s the early AM hour that caused me to reread this three times to absorb its full impact. Whoosh! Stunning piece Lynn. Thank you. Love you.
    Deb

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    1. Aww…Deb, you are way too good and kind to me. But you and I, of course, relate to Abba through “pictures”… only you create those pictures through your dance, poetry and poetic prose and I through paintings. Our hearts and spirits are in sync. You truly are kindred, and I praise God for helping me to find you here online! We will meet one day on this side of eternity…I’m determined! 🙂 Love you much!! ❤ ❤

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  6. Your words magnificently display the many wonderful aspects of God. His power and strength have been my mainstay for all my days. I used to be afraid of that power, but now know that all he does is done for our good – in spite of ourselves. Great words and wonderful painting.

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    1. Amen, dear Kathy! Whatever would we do without our heavenly Father? I hate to even imagine it! Thank you for your thoughtful and uplifting words here! Your heart for Abba is so true and comes through in all that you write! I am so blessed by you! ❤ ❤

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  7. I’d be too afraid of sharks!
    I’m not a fan of either the Atlantic or Pacific, preferring the Gulf.
    You’re a braver soul than I would have been.
    I learned on a trip to Alaska once how truly small we are when we look at the force of Nature.
    When I son was in middle school, we took a week-long family vacation flying to Anchorage and renting a car.
    My husband has always wanted to see Alaska—afterwards, he said he never needed to go back.
    We were actually driving down Turn Again arm onto the Kenai Peninsula.
    We stopped at a pull out as there was a “hanging” glacier I wanted to get a picture of.
    Despite being July, it was cold, rainy and windy.

    The northern Pacific was to our left, a massive cliff face mountain that disappeared in the foggy mist was right at our feet and suddenly I found myself almost afraid. I felt so terribly small and insignificant.
    The land, sky, and sea were all so massive and harrowing…capable of taking me out in a mere wisp.

    Some folks climb mountains or do other things to defy nature and feel as if they are conquerors…but all the while they are fooling themselves.
    We are but mere wisps.
    And sometimes we need to remember this in that God is great and we are not.

    A beautiful reminder my friend—thank you

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Julie… you are so contrary… Ha, ha! Just teasin’ 😉 The gulf, eh? It is very peaceful… and the sand is incredibly soft! Pensacola beaches are amazing… Where do you frequent most on the Gulf? As far as bravery goes… I think I was simply young and foolish… Ha! And wishing to impress my date. Like that worked out…(rolling eyes.) Michelin Man, indeed! 😉 Your Alaska trip sounds incredible. I’ve always wanted to go, and in fact, we won a cruise through CFA about ten years ago… but Mom was on her deathbed. So my husband went alone at my insistence and I stayed home with Mom and our son. Dad did a lot of scientific work up there especially in the 60s after the great Alaskan earthquake. I have a watercolor painting that he brought home of an Alaskan schooner with glacier in background. I’m sure the land and seascapes are awe inspiring! You sound pretty brave to me! And yes, wise! God is indeed majestic and bigger than we can possibly imagine… His creation proves that, doesn’t it? Love you, dear Jules! You’re the best! ❤ ❤

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    1. Yes… you are so right, David! Our God encompasses so many more characteristics and qualities than we are prone to think about on a day-to-day basis. Thank you for your profound insight. Your blog is such a blessing as you always push us to think deeply about our Savior-God! God bless you greatly. 🙂

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  8. This is a wonderful post, Lynn. We were at Laguna Beach once when the tide was 10 feet high. They called it surfers paradise. I watched the pounding waves and didn’t see myself come anywhere close to the edge of the water. I have my comfort zone. Yes, my Father has a way to stretch my wings. I thank Him for that. What a beautiful painting for this message. ❤ ❤

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  9. Amen-Amein Sister in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua Lynn ❤

    I grew up on the Pacific side all my life, I was born in Healdsburg California in 1960!! We did not live in Healdsburg, California though, we lived in super small town called Annapolis, California!!

    GOD Bless All my Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus-Yeshua and Your Families and Friends!!

    Love Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Kristi… then, you grew up not far from the beach I have depicted in my painting…Pebble Beach! And you and I are about the same age! I love that. I spent the first half of my growing up years in Mountain View, Calif and the second half in North San Diego County. But I love the Sonoma area! God bless you greatly, my friend and dear sister! ❤ ❤

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  10. Wonderfully written. I looked at the beautiful painting and compared to your description. It dawned on me that the rocks create the friction of the gentle waves; thus creating the splashes and overflow. I can relate to the power of the waves too, although the east coast waves aren’t a match for the west coast. I love your description of our Lord’s involvement in our lives. So true. 🙂

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    1. “…thus, creating the splashes and the overflow”–I LOVE that, Ron! And I can’t help but think of those “splashes and overflow” as the joyful testimony that results when we face various trials …we are able to comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted. Thank you for your keen insight! And for your kind words! Your thoughts today have given me wonderful food for thought! God bless you greatly!! 🙂

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      1. Oh! God bless you Lynn. I love how your writing brings out creative thoughts in others. Yes, I try think of how God’s grace overflows when the trials come. No one is exempt. Many times I need reminders along the way – practically daily. 🙂

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  11. Great post, Lynn. My wife almost lost her life twenty years ago when we were in Hawaii. She got caught up in a rip current. I’m so glad that God saved you and my wife from the raging waves.
    The painting is beautiful. You are one talented lady!

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    1. Oh, my, Bill… rip currents are so dangerous! I’m so thankful that God saved your bride as well!! Thank you for your kind encouragement about my painting! You are such an inspiration and blessing, Bill! Thank you for your friendship! 🙂

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  12. Loved your story on the sea……it is pretty amazing. All you have to do is study the Great Barrier Reef like I did when I chose the name for my blog. It is such a complicated structure that only a Sovereign hand could have created it! And our LORD is just like that, complicated and hard to understand, yet oh so loving and compassionate with abundant grace and mercy for us. Blessings friend!

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    1. Oh, how wonderful, Maxine! I have wondered how you chose the name of your blog! Your thoughts are so beautiful. I love it! I also always so appreciate the godly wisdom you share whether it is through your blog or through your thoughtful comments! You are a treasure! ❤ and hugs

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  13. Abba knew I needed this message just as I begin to embark on a new ministry and part-time job. I will definitely be out of my comfort zone simply by merit of the fact that I’ll have to exchange shorts and a swimsuit for office dress five days a week! But He will be there with me. Thank you for the reminder, Lynn! ❤

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    1. Five days a week, Angela? I thought perhaps the position was part-time, but this sounds very full-time to me! I will pray that the transition goes well and that you feel very at home there! Love and huge hugs!! ❤ ❤

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      1. It’s part-time in the sense that I’m only working 4 hours a day. But even so, once you figure in time to shower, dress, and commute, the better part of the day will be gone. My greatest prayer is that my attitude will be one of gratitude and not of complaining and wishing I were home. Thank you for your prayers, Lynn. I sure need them. I pray for you too, and I hope you are enjoying your “new” studio. ❤

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      2. I completely understand that, Angela! I’ve had commitments eating into my studio time, and although those commitments are important, it is difficult not to be resentful of the lost time…Daily turning to God and seeking that heart of gratitude! Huge hugs and blessings to you in this new season! ❤ ❤

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  14. So beautifully written. I love your descriptions for you surfing. I’ve also experienced the California tumble of her ocean’s waves. Your use of Isaiah, sings to my soul. I have been studying Isaiah for 3 months and have learned new things that astound me. I so love your writing your poetry and prose flow with marvelous detail.

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    1. Thank you with all my heart, Stephen! Your kind words have made my day! I’m so glad that Isaiah has touched your life. It is one of my favorites! And the fact that you’ve been studying it and I referenced it here encourages me so much. God is so good, isn’t He? Thank you for blessing me today. May God bless you beyond all that you can imagine! 🙂

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  15. Love this one, Lynn! And your description of surfing is spot on! Surfing is nothing more than controlled drowning on a flattened canoe bat!! 🙂 Love your spiritual application too, for the same One that made the water can walk on it and keep a man alive for three days below water in the mouth of a great fish!!

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    1. Aww… you are so very good to me, Carly. I’m currently not accepting awards for time reasons… but in the future, I may accept your lovely award. Just don’t have time for any additional posts, currently! But thank you with all my heart for thinking of me! You’re awesome! ❤

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