April 1, 2013

Life Is an Adventure

Our perspective on trials can make a difference in how we handle them. For me, a little personal motto has been helpful. Let me explain how that came about.

When the calendar said I had reached an important milestone age—forty years old—I took stock of my life. My blessings were many. I have a good wife who loves me, and we have a son and a daughter who respect us. In addition, I am part of a church congregation that appreciates me, and my career as a college professor is fulfilling.

However, my life was very predictable. As an academic, I could plan my days two or three years in advance, and did so. At church, we had regularly scheduled services. While I appreciated the stability and security of my life, part of me longed for adventure. So, after my mid-life review, I decided to launch out a bit. My motto for this was “Life is an adventure.”

In my effort to be something of an adventurer, I began to explore the natural world around me, fitting in these excursions between my regular responsibilities. A day hike in the Tehachapi Mountains near our home was a start. A kayaking outing off the coast of Santa Barbara with dolphins swimming alongside was memorable. Joshua Tree National Park had giant boulders to climb and tight crevices in the canyons to squeeze through.

In time, my wife was persuaded to do some adventuring with me on our vacations. We have hiked the narrow trails of the Grand Canyon, seen whales spout in the ocean, and watched the glaciers calve in Alaska.

Since I learned to fulfill my desire for adventure in these ways, my need for security and stability is balanced with the quest for action and adventure. Although my schedule is still fairly predictable, now I make an effort to find time to include “adventure” trips in it.

It isn’t surprising that my thoughts also turned toward whether my spiritual life had adventure. The Bible does not have the word “boring” in it. Biblical men and women sometimes had complaints about their lives, but the Scriptures never once record that they complained about being bored. Rather, the God of the Bible seems to delight in calling human beings to accomplish challenging, almost impossible tasks. He asks them to step outside their comfort zones and to engage in great adventures with Him.

Consider a few examples.

God called Noah to build a giant ark to save his family and the creatures of the earth from a massive flood. (See Genesis 6.) Noah was recruited to be a boat builder, an animal keeper, and a storm survivor.

God called Abraham to leave his homeland and his family to travel to a far-away land. (See Genesis 12.) Abraham obeyed and found himself engaged in fire-and-brimstone storms, desert battles, mountaintop sacrifices, family squabbles, and divine manifestations.

God called Joseph to be the savior of his family during a famine. (See Genesis 45.) He had strange visions, was sold into slavery by his brothers, was falsely accused and put into prison. Then, in an amazing turn of events, he interpreted a dream for Egypt’s ruler, and was made second-in-command of the nation. From that position of authority, he became responsible for disaster preparations.

When the Children of Israel cried out to God from their Egyptian bondage, God sent them on a great wilderness adventure. (See Exodus 13.) They survived ten plagues in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, were led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and faced hunger, thirst, and hostile elements. After they reached the Promised Land, God helped them be victorious in an astonishing number of military campaigns.

Throughout the history of the Children of Israel, God called judges, then kings, and eventually prophets to lead His people and declare His Word. They prevailed against incredible odds in battles, were warriors and rulers, and at times endured mockery and disdain, risking their lives to proclaim the coming judgment of God.

Jesus called the Apostles to forsake their ordinary lives and to follow Him on an extraordinary journey of faith. After a brief time of training, He told them to spread the Gospel throughout the world. (See Mark 16.) The Apostles preached the Good News, healed the sick, enraged the status quo, and turned the world upside down. History records that almost all of them were martyred.

God often leads people into difficult situations and helps them face incredible odds in order to accomplish remarkable feats.

The sacred Scriptures reveal a God who calls human beings to live for Him, which will be a great adventure. It is easy for us to hope that following God will be safe or predictable, and that He will make our lives easier. Yet, on the contrary, God often leads people into difficult situations and helps them face incredible odds in order to accomplish remarkable feats.

During the first forty years of my life, I sometimes prayed, “God, please do not allow anything too difficult to come my way. You know how weak a person I am. You know I wouldn’t be able to handle it.” However, God did not answer that prayer. About seven years ago, He allowed several hard situations to come into my life all at once. It felt as if God took me up to the edge of a cliff and then pushed me off! But this helped me discover that although I could not handle life on my own, I could lean on God.

Even when life is hard, God is still good. Oh, I do not prefer pain and suffering. However, when God allows pain and suffering to come, I truly believe that He is working out all things for my good. My faith is rooted in God’s Word, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Many other Scriptures also give assurance that God has a plan and is working it out as my life is yielded to Him.

Now, if disaster strikes, I remind myself that life is an adventure. When the unexpected occurs, I remind myself that life is an adventure. When there are painful, difficult circumstances, life is an adventure. Since there is a longing in me for adventure, how can I complain when God sends it my way?

The “Life is an adventure” motto inspires me to look to God and then confront and embrace the worst that life has to offer. A great adventurer is a person who has faced many dangerous situations and survived. If I want to be a great adventurer, then I must be willing to take risks and face my fears. I cannot shrink back from hardship, pain, and suffering. The greater the trials, the greater the adventure!

Maybe this thought will strengthen you when you face unexpected circumstances. God has a special adventure plan for each of us, and we can trust Him to take us through.

apostolic faith magazine