This past weekend I was invited to a barbecue with some Brazilians. I jumped at the chance. First of all, because seriously, how fun is that? And secondly, I have a work trip to Brazil this fall. This was a prime opportunity to make some contacts and glean some tips for a first time visitor.
Now here’s a secret that’s really not a secret at all. I am someone who sits very comfortably on the introverted side of the scale. I am not someone who walks into a room and knows every person there within minutes. Far from it. But while at this barbecue, I managed to strike up a delightful conversation with a lady who I thought was originally from Brazil and now worked as a botany professor at a university in the U.S. Good for me!
Twenty minutes later I learned she is actually the wife of an engineering professor and is originally from Poland.
It was still a delightful conversation, but clearly there was something lacking in my conversational skills. As this realization hit me, I couldn’t help but look around and wonder: What am I doing here?
I did eventually make the rounds and talk to some folks from Brazil, but I kept thinking of this incident long after the barbecue had ended. It suddenly occurred to me that as out-of-place as I felt, I was actually in the exact right place precisely because I felt that way. If I was comfortable all the time, if I felt fully capable of every task that came my way, if I was never thrust out of my comfort zone, then I would be in the wrong place. It doesn’t do me any good to only take on challenges I already know how to do. I need opportunities that force me – sometimes against my will – to grow.
I heard a piece of a sermon on the radio the other day where the pastor was saying if we are not uncomfortable in our ministry then we are in the wrong place. If there is no opposition then we are probably just preaching to the choir. We should be most excited when we are not comfortable, when things are difficult, and when opposition is mounting, because those are signs that we are needed. Those are signs that we are in the exact right place.
I think it is an interesting point, and has some truth to it. Sometimes God intentionally puts us in positions that are outside of our comfort zone. Like Moses when God charged him with leading the Israelites out of Egypt, we sometimes look around and see others who would be much better suited to the task at hand. Like Moses, we cry, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it!” (Exodus 4:13). But God chooses each one of us according to His plan. And His plan sometimes places us in positions we might not normally choose on our own. Perhaps God does this to demonstrate his power in our weakness. Perhaps God is keeping us humble. Perhaps God is teaching us a skill we would otherwise not attain.
Sometimes I think God is simply showing us He has a sense of humor. Let’s send an introvert to the party and see how she does, ha ha!
Think of this, the next time you find yourself in one of those, “what am I doing here??” moments: God could have sent someone else. God could have equipped you differently. But God made you, just the way you are. And God chose you, just the way you are.
Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-11)