Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
My mom once bought me a green, wide-brimmed hiking hat from Value Village. She gave it to me for a backpacking trip I would go on before the start of my senior year of college. I quickly deemed this hat my “adventure hat.” The summer after I graduated college, I wore it on all sorts of grand adventures, and it has been a faithful companion of mine ever since– floating through the jungles of Borneo, scaling the Great Wall of China, kayaking the coves of Kodiak, and climbing the near and dear mountains that stand guard around my beloved city.
My adventure hat, and the accompanying adventures, sometimes surprise me. When I look back at my childhood self, I was shy and often scared, but somewhere along the line of life, God opened wide my heart to his grand adventure for me. I’m not really talking about the adventures listed above either, but rather the unexpected, endearing ways of a God who delights in showing people the goodness of life. Now that I have a taste of His ways, I could never turn back. I have learned a few things about adventure along the way:
Adventures require a dream, and Jesus is a dreamer.
The grand story of the Bible is one great God-adventure, laced together by example after example of things and people humans would never dream up to be a part of God’s plan. I personally wonder why God would ever use people at all. We sure do seem to screw things up. Oh, but His thoughts and dreams are not our own, and His wily ways have wrangled so many unlikely, uncommon characters out of their comfort zones and into places people never once imagined themselves to be. Just read the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. You’ll see what I mean pretty quickly. He takes outsiders and makes them insiders, calls pagans to his plan, transforms persecutors of His church into preachers for it, and is faithful to the faithless. Even when you struggle to believe in Him, He believes in you.
Adventures are dirty.
What’s the first thing you think of when embarking on an adventure? Laying back by the pool, drinking out of a coconut, perfecting your tan? We live in an instagram-posting, experience-seeking world where adventure is glamorized. However, when I think back on my most beloved adventures in life, they are far from glamorous. Most include dirt under my nails, a lack of hygiene, and a whole lot of hesitancy. They have left me scarred and bruised and scared. They have required slogging through dirt, plunging off docks, and crossing oceans. In the same way, life with Jesus can be so very messy, and scary, too, full of unknown turns and seemingly impossible calls, which leads to the next lesson.
Adventures require risk.
There is always a step into the unknown on an adventure. Whether it’s taking a step on an unknown trail or boarding a plane to make a new nation my home, my adventures have always involved risk. In the same way, there is always a “losing” involved in following Jesus. He said so himself in Matthew 16:25. Following him could risk your friendships, reputation, security, or wealth. Jesus made no promises that the journey would be easy.
Adventure brings great reward.
However, in return for all things given up to Him, He gives us His very life. Think back to your greatest adventure. Was it a fear conquered? A family started? A big move? Even the simplest adventures of climbing a mountain yields the beautiful view at the top. The soaking in of natural beauty is just a small metaphor for the richness Jesus rewards us with in following Him– not shallow rewards of comfort and ease, but a wealth unknown to many. We have the joy of knowing Him, of loving His people, of joining Him in His great work.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
When I reflect on my life, I am in awe of God’s ways. He has led me to people and places I never would have dreamed up for myself, and most likely would have tried to avoid. He has consistently challenged my perspectives of the ways He works, and has shown me He can do anything. He has led me to foreign countries, and has led me right back home where I was raised, and I have never felt more strongly that I am where I belong than right now, right here. His adventures for us may seem quite ordinary to the untrained eye, but following Him is never dull.
So, my friends, don your adventure hats, take Jesus’ hand, and follow His leading. Adventure on.