Are we really experiencing true adventure or just a fake version?
A couple weeks ago I was hiking out in the Superstition Wilderness. I have to say that it is becoming is one of my favorite places to explore. I would encourage everyone to spend alone time outdoors because it forces you to think without interruption. Sometimes I think about totally pointless things, but more often than not I dig deep in my mind and have serious conversations with God. In the wilderness, there is no one to answer your questions but God.
As I came over the initial ridge and witnessed for the first time the expanse of the wilderness before me, I started thinking about what it means to truly have an adventure. I started to think about what it really takes for a person to experience the fullness of true adventure in life. Somewhere along the line, our understanding of adventure took a wrong turn. We are a generation that follows adventure brand stylists with massive Instagram accounts, and though I love the photos and styles, it has caused us to miss key elements of adventure. Adventure now looks like beautiful people going to beautiful places to take beautifully perfect photos. Yet, we know that this reality is somehow lacking. It feels fake, plastic even. A generation that is sold on a plastic sense of adventure will be paralyzed when facing the truth of adventure rather than mobilized by it.
The greatest adventures in human history had to face two things: fear and time.
You cannot have a true adventure without facing the both of them. When great adventures sailed for new worlds they had to face the fear of a seemingly endless ocean, and the patience to cross what felt like an eternity of dark waters. When we face fear it forces us to grow in courage, and in doing so we venture out into a life greater than we previously had. When we face time it forces us to grow in patience, and in doing so become people of endurance. Patience and courage do not eliminate the need for hard work and strong prayer, it makes it foundationally necessary in our life. Courage and patience also do not eliminate the obstacles and difficulty of the adventure. Captain Riddenbacher said, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. Where there is no fear, there is no courage.”
As I climbed to the top of another ridge I looked out across a massive valley spread out like a green sea to the east. Weeks of rain had turned it deep green that I had never witnessed in the desert before. The dark trees looked like soldiers poised for a historic battle. I began to think of King David, and how he responded to being surrounded by fearful circumstances enemies in his own valleys. Psalm 27 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.”
So many elements of life can be deemed an “adventure.” Moving to a new place is an adventure. Taking a new position or job is an adventure. A lifetime committed in marriage is an adventure. Having kids is an adventure. In order to truly experience the fullness of these adventures, we must face fear and time head on. Fake adventure might take a great photo but it can never offer a true life of satisfaction.
Finishing an adventure feels good. At the end of my time hiking, I rejoiced not only at the view but also at the result of hard work. I was dirty. I had bumped into a cactus at one point, and my shin was bleeding. I was rocking full on hat hair. Yet, standing at the end I was in awe of where the adventure had brought me. I forgot about the painful things and the time it took me to get there. I stood there breathless as I encountered the untouched handiwork of the creator as if I had found some corner of paradise.
When we stand at the end of life our hope is that we all rejoice in the adventure even though we faced difficulty and tough seasons. The profoundly good news is that in our lives we don’t adventure alone. We don’t have to face fear alone. God is with us. I love when God tells Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We should not flee from true adventure because we walk with Christ who casts out all fears and has already overcome the world. We get to rejoice in the adventure because we walk it with Christ and in his love and faithfulness.
Face your fear, endure when it seems tough, live a life that is full of real adventure, and take some great photos along the way.