Comfort zones are those places where one feels safe and secure with little stress to deal with. They represent that with which we are familiar and have grown accustomed to. In our comfort zones we feel at ease and somewhat in control. Moving out of a comfort zone into unfamiliar territory is usually accompanied by a high degree of uncertainty causing a painful level of stress and anxiety. This is why many resist voluntarily leaving their comfort zones. But the only way for most of us to improve our situation, progress in life and develop any measure of growth and maturity is to consciously move out of our comfort zones.
Perhaps due to his aggressive and impetuous nature, the apostle Peter seems to be one who was able to move out of his comfort zones with relative ease. After being brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew (Jn 1:40-42), Peter and Andrew soon left their profession as fishermen and followed the Lord as His disciples—becoming “fishers of men” (Mt 4:18-20). This took a certain amount of faith, as it moved them out of their comfort zones. But Peter seemed to excel in this area.
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, as they were rowing their boat against billowing waves and contrary winds, they were understandably frightened. The Lord calmed their fears saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Mt 14:27). What was Peter’s response? “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (v. 28). We’re not sure why Peter makes this request, but he did receive the Lord’s permission to come to Him on the water.
So, Peter left the security of the boat and began walking on the water towards the Lord, through tempestuous waves and tumultuous winds. Talk about leaving your comfort zone! Many have faulted Peter for this and have criticized him for becoming afraid, taking his eyes off Jesus and beginning to sink. But at least he was willing to get out of the boat and had enough faith to leave his comfort zone. And, for a short time, he did walk on water. What other mere mortal is able to make this claim?
There will be times in our Christian walk when we will be challenged to step out on faith and leave our comfort zones. And this will usually take place during the dark and stormy times of life (Jas 1:2-4; 1 Pet 1:6-9). As we take the first step toward leaving our comfort zone, we can be assured and strengthened by the wise words of Solomon: “The Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught” (Pr 3:26). With God’s help, and by His strength (Eph 6:10), we will be able to effectively face the challenges that lie ahead and be used by the Lord in ways that perhaps we never thought possible—when we move out of our comfort zones.