Coat of Many Feathers | Comfort Zone, Courage, & Outdoor Gear?

I am offline the rest of this week conducting training for two outdoor ministry organizations. I have asked several guest bloggers to post while I’m away. This is a guest post by my friend, Edy Sutherland, author of the Whee Factor. You can visit her website and follow her on facebook.

comfort zoneLife is Dynamic–it has Seasons, and Change is Unavoidable. The Wilderness Teaches us the Path to Peace is Flexibility.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19

Our family storage closet houses an arsenal of skis, bikes, boards, ropes, harnesses, shoes, and boots. The most treasured weapon in this varied arsenal of toys is my down coat. Few adventures embark without her.

Security from hazardous weather makes her a treasured tool. I’m certain, if you spend any measure of time in the backcountry, you have one too. Yet consider how funny and out of place it would be, if after returning to a hut after a cold day of adventure outside, I kept wearing my “feathered friend” inside the hut even when it was cozy enough to lounge around in a t-shirt.

Wilderness Teaches Us to Not Cling to our Comfort Zone

As I venture in to the “backcountry” quite often, the down coat makes for a strong image of how I’m prone to “wear” the garments of comfort and security far beyond when I should. Life is dynamic–it has seasons, and change is unavoidable. Outdoor recreation in the wilderness parallel is this: you have to know when to use certain gear, and when to move on and reach for another piece of gear that fits the changing terrain or climate. Here are some examples of the ways I resist change and stubbornly cling to my gear even when the climate changes and I need to let go and move on:

  • I want God to endorse my strategy and my plans so I can feel in control.
  • I want others to endorse my vision even if they aren’t being led in the same direction.
  • I want the easy pleasure of having an existing outreach ministry to join rather than being willing to make the sacrifice of starting something new.

comfort zoneJesus is inviting us to abundant life in Him. This calls for faith in Him in the dynamic changes of life. As spiritual leaders, we are called to model living by faith, not by “I want” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We need to be aware of His leading and let go of our security blankets. We must hang our comfortable “coat of many feathers” in the closet and move on to what He has next for us by asking, seeking, and knocking… (Matthew 7:7-8).

What are Your Security Blanket Behaviors?

Drawing from my own heart, this acrostic represents ways that I have neglected to hang-up my down coat. Do any of these “security blanket” behaviors resonate with you?

C:  You are content to live with things as they are.
O:  Your God given vision is obscured by apathy or fear.
M:  You mistake security and control for God’s blessing.
F:  You forget God has a plan and call on your life.
O:  You omit the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God.
R:  You allow regret to supersede taking risks.
T:  You trade certainty for knowing and experiencing God.

Outdoor Leaders Need to Be Models of COURAGE

God desires to make a way in the desert and provide streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19). As outdoor leaders, how do we model courageous faith so that others see something in us they are eager to obtain? Here is a simple acronym that could either be used for your own personal time of reflection, or could be a good conversation starter with a group you are leading in the wilderness:

C:  Remain Calm! Know God. Thank God. Believe God. Trust God.
O:  Observe the current conditions. Ask yourself, “How is the Spirit of God reaching this generation?” And then, join Him using your unique story and gifting.
U:  Understand the risks! BUT, pray for God to use your story for HIS glory.
R:  Reach in to your memory! Draw upon previous encounters with God. Remember, He is faithful even when we are not.
G:  Get on with it! Don’t over think it. Place the stick in the red sea. God will part the waters in His timing even if it’s one water molecule at a time.
E:  Enjoy! The second you turn embark, you move from the uncertainty of faith to experiencing God for yourself.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

3 thoughts on “Coat of Many Feathers | Comfort Zone, Courage, & Outdoor Gear?

  1. Oh Edy! How I love you! You are so great at illustrating how our insecurities, inaction and apathy are our unbelief manifest. My favorite line, “Get on with it! Don’t over think it. Place the stick in the red sea. God will part the waters in His timing even if it’s one water molecule at a time.”

    You’re the best girl…I’m listening!

  2. Wow, this is a really great comparison for leaving our comforts behind and following Christ! I woke up really early this morning (3am) and Jesus words just kept playing over and over to me, pick up your mat and go. I find myself taking more provisions for myself than just my mat, because its comfortable. This is a great reminder that our trust needs to be in Jesus, he will provide the rest. Thanks for the share! It’ll go great with our series with the students on Trusting God.

    •  Thanks Aaron, great words. And I love the connection to what Jesus said to the paralytic, “take up your mat and walk.”  Such simple words with deeply profound implications!  And it is so great to hear how you are able to use some of the lessons from this blog in your youth ministry!  Way to go brother, and thanks for your valuable input.

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