Last Friday I took my beautiful wife away for the evening to the Cwrt Bleddyn hotel – a ridiculously posh hotel near Usk. In fact it’s so ridiculously posh I could never ordinarily afford it (God bless the generosity of our friends at our favourite church-away-from-church – you know who you are!!)
As we sat down for our evening meal in the swanky restaurant (feeling considerably under-dressed and shamelessly chavish [if that’s a word]) and pondered what starter to have – one dish really caught my eye: Grilled Wood pigeon and nectarine!! Despite feeling I was betraying the memory of my mam (a proud member of the Gwent Ornothological Society) it just sounded so nuts I had to go for it…and trust me it was absolutely RANK!!!
Literally filth on a stick!
But the thing is I’m still glad I tried it.
It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time that I take a risk and opt for the “dangerous option.” I’m genetically predisposed to seeking new experiences, exploring fresh territory, trying new things out and opting for adventure over safety, sanity or orthodoxy. I personally blame my dad for this tendency (and I love him for it too!!)
Ever since I can remember he always ordered the craziest dish on the menu. When most blokes were down the pub after a hard days graft he was jumping off mountains (with a paraglider attached). When people shut themselves in their homes to shelter from thunderstorms he was charging to the top of the local mountain to get a better view! When all my mates were playing for the local kids football team we were out with dad canoeing rapids, jumping off cliffs or climbing back up them. Even now after just celebrating his 65th birthday my dad’s currently in the middle of a 6month trekking tour of the Greek islands – just something he wanted to do – so he did!!
I love that about my dad – his life is an adventure – it always has been!
Now some might argue that I took the whole ‘adventure’ thing too far and that if I’d been a bit tamer perhaps I would have had fewer visits to the hospital and fewer scrapes with the police over the years. And there may be some truth in that. However, for every tale of broken bones, subsequent operations and mistakes made in the name of adrenaline, I can point to countless more stories of unprecedented excitement, limits pushed, boundaries crossed and dreams fulfilled – none of which would have happened if I hadn’t craved adventure and had the example of a dad who encouraged me to have the guts to make those cravings a reality (at least the legal ones!!)
And I’m buzzin that when I got saved almost 18 years ago, God didn’t eradicate that sense of adventure.
He sanctified it.
I might not be jumping down flights of steps on my skateboard anymore, or travelling to Bulgaria with no money to go snowboarding, but I’m preaching the gospel where Christ is not known (and really getting up satan’s nose while I’m at it!) And trust me I’ve never felt so under cosh and out of my depth, yet so alive and so energised all at the same time!!
Life’s more of an adventure now than it ever was – cos I get to do it with Jesus!
See, here’s what I’m really trying to get at in this post – when I read the Bible I don’t see the life of a disciple of Jesus as a tame, bland, predictable or ordinary life. No. When I read the Bible I smell adventure on almost every page! I literally couldn’t fit all the biblical examples that have just flooded into mind in the last 10 seconds into this post – but I dare you to spend a bit of time hanging out with gospel heroes like Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul, and above all Jesus and tell me if terms like ‘comfortable’, ‘safe’, ‘bland’ or ‘ordinary’ fit the bill!
You’re having a laugh!
Whether it’s following a cloud of fire through the desert (and the sea itself), going on SAS-style spying missions, slaying giants, getting fed to lions, walking on water, getting ship-wrecked or carrying a cross to your own execution (only to bust out of the grave 3 days later) there is a doctrinal theme that is running through the Bible that I’m concerned is all too often over-looked – the doctrine of adventure!
Now hear me right, I know that there’s bigger and more important doctrines in there (the Trinity, the atonement, the resurrection etc.) but I’m going to argue that this one is nonetheless important too. Here’s why…
- Too many Christians these days are timid little saps who hide in church buildings rather than storm the gates of hell.
- Too many Christians these days haven’t got the faintest idea what to do with their lives so they just conform.
- Too many Christians these days are simply bored senseless.
- Too many Christians these days allow fear to prevent their God-given dreams becoming reality.
- Too many Christians these days genuinely think excitement is for younger people, different people or dead people!
The trouble is that while adventure is rarely encouraged or even mentioned within our churches, the craving for it is hard-wired into us all, especially men. Therefore countless Christians are now searching for it in all the wrong places – seedy online chatrooms, downloading illicit pornography, or engaging in sexual fantasies and extra-marital affairs.
That’s tragic, not least because the short-term buzz you get from messing around with that stuff is nothing next to the adventure of living in the reality of the abundant life of Jesus.
Let me therefore round off this ridiculously long, random and rambling post by asking you whether you subscribe to, or live in light of the doctrine of adventure.
Here’s 10 questions to help you think it through:
- Would you describe your Christian life as exciting?
- Would other people describe your Christian life as exciting?
- When was the last time you stepped out in faith to the point that you were literally freaking out and praying like your life depended on it?
- When was the last time you ferociously clung to a scripture such as “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh1v9)?
- What God-given dreams have you seen fulfilled or are passionate about seeing fulfilled?
- When was the last time you cried – with excitement, fear, despair or relief because of the mission God’s called you to?
- If someone asked you what’s the most nuts thing you’ve ever done as a Christian what would your answer be?
- Who are the heroes (either in the Bible or church history) who most inspire you?
- Which character in the Bible would you most liken yourself to?
- When was the last time you ordered the craziest thing on the menu?
My encouragement to you as you read this is get a grip of the gospel again. Let the God who stepped out on the most inspiring rescue adventure in history capture your heart and your imagination again. Let your love, worship and honour for Him propel you into the adventure of your life. And may His final words of grace forever ring in your ears and give you courage until your own adventure is over:
“behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt28v20)