A note to my readers: As I explained in my first post on Adventuring, I am posting this overall reflection as a running series of three successive posts. This will give you opportunities to pause, like stopping on the road at scenic over-looks, to read your own story into this between the lines, to reflect into more of the goodness you are discovering on your way. I hope this journey will encourage deeper awareness of the great meaning in your own pilgrimage.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to begin reading this on-going reflection with its first post, Adventures: Beginnings
So often we are like children just splashing around in a mud puddle in the backyard, thinking we are having such a good time – when all the while what is really being offered us is a grand adventure at the seashore.
Please note that references in parentheses refer to books of the Bible unless otherwise apparent.
Earlier, I explored some beginnings of adventuring, including why we might embrace this invitation, and what the excitement of this journey can be like…
So what all is it we hope to find in this way? The surprising answers are as myriad as the kaleidoscope of life. Our “California dreamin’” began with my pursuits of biblical studies in an exciting international and multi-denominational community. In the process, we found new friends from Indiana and South Africa. We ambled into the magical outdoor amphitheater of the Hollywood Bowl complete with Handel’s symphonic synchronized Fireworks. We trekked trails in the mountains nearly outside our front door with another good man and good woman who found each other and got married. We body-surfed the dancing waves of “God’s playground.” We were confronted with the troubling challenges of persons without a home and political exiles without a country. We fell in love with a city where one fellow traveler without a home moaned across a bowl of soup, “This is like living on the moon.” So I realized: It is here that I seek to serve as a missionary of hope to this moon.
In so many ways, adventuring is the wonders we discover on the way: Romance and love, victory through suffering, courage amidst peril, friends from near and far and just as marvelously similar and different from us, the deepening of faith when we find what we could not trust for actually comes true, and the deepest faith to be on the journey still when we still haven’t found what we’re looking for (U2). Through it all, one thing is sure: To find anything, we need to go on the journey, to live this life beyond ourselves, seeking the more for which we are so wondrously designed (Psalm 139; Augustine).
Abraham… was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
I want to know the Messiah
and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings
– so somehow I may come to attain the resurrection.
– Hebrews 11; Philippians 3
How can we do this? I suggest two strategic moves: going, and persevering. A principle my wife and I have encouraged ourselves to remember is to live with short tent-pegs, so we can pull them up, pack up the tent and go, whenever there’s something worth going for. True, Bilbo did “warn” (promise?) Frodo: It’s a dangerous thing going out your front door – you never know where the road might take you (see The Lord of the Rings). And the most key life-lesson I learned in doing graduate studies is the meaning of the journey is found through a long perseverance. Bilbo himself knew well what this will mean: risky riddles in the dark, facing fire-breathing dragons, and needing to let go of the magic ring for another to complete the quest your footsteps began. But Bilbo and the fellowship of the ring would not trade or quit their adventures for all of Middle Earth.
The biblical story is one of adventuring, a living epic of going, from its start, at its heart, to its climax. In Genesis 1, God’s first description of the purpose of human life in this truly good creation includes the call to go into this creation to cultivate and share all its blessings with everyone together. In Matthew 28 at the mountainous apex of Jesus’ life on earth, he tells us it is as we are going along that we will serve in his mission for renewing cultures (also see Matthew 12). Ultimately, through this long quest with Jesus in the coming of his kingdom on earth, we will find ourselves marching with kings into the new city of God, the new creation in which all things will be made new and fully good again. The biblical adventure is one of going, from creation to new creation, from home to home, with the healing hope of Messiah Jesus pulsing in our veins each step of the way.
In this going, the way of adventuring is also persevering in hope. Another Narnia story, The Silver Chair, tells the quest of two motley children and Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, a gloomy old curmudgeon of a teddy-bear who wriggles his way deep into your heart. This humble trio traverses the dangers of the giants’ country, only to stumble into the dark underworld of the green-poison witch, all to rescue the long-lost prince (the son of king Caspian and the star-queen). At the deepest darkest moment of their seemingly doomed pilgrimage, when the journey seemed at death’s end, it is Puddleglum actually who speaks out the boldest declaration of sheer faith in all the days of Narnia (you’ll have to read it for the details). Similarly, when the ship Dawn Treader neared the world’s edge, where at the last minute the voyage seemed spoiled with no more wind in their sails, it is Reepicheep the chief mouse who sounds again the horn of undying adventure (with the most stirring speech in Narnian history…). It is such mouse-like courage that Apostle Paul celebrates so passionately: endurance by grace, perseverance in purpose, undying hope, no matter how fragile life sometimes seems (Philippians 3; Rom 5, 8; 1 Corinthians 1-4).
By faith Abraham, when called to go… went,
even though he did not know where he was going.
By faith… he lived in tents, as heir of the promise.
So I press on to make this goal my own,
because Messiah Jesus has made me his own.
Forgetting what lies behind
and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal
for the prize of the call of God in Messiah Jesus.
Hebrews 11; Philippians 3
Together, going and persevering are the longing that is the spirit of true adventuring. And this longing is summed up well in the challenge also voiced by C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. All this is like a simple parable: So often we are like children just splashing around in a mud puddle in the backyard, thinking we are having such a good time – when all the while what is really being offered us is a grand adventure at the seashore (my paraphrase). I urge us all: Hear the horn’s call. Embrace the spirit of adventure: live through the going, keep to the journey, be longing into hope.
This reflection began in Adventuring: Beginnings, and is continued by Adventuring: Homecomings.
Readers are also encouraged to explore other posts in this series: Living Life
God so loved the world… God is love!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…
and the tree of life…
at the middle of the great street of the city…
and the leaves of the tree
are for the healing of the cultures.
John 3; 1 John 4; Revelation 21, 22