Growing in Adventure Again

Vision – dreams – without them, we are a people lost and hopeless and in despair. Many of us have found ourselves in a place where we feel the threatening walls of despair closing in all around us. Their pressing in forces the breath out of our lungs as we sink in fear and doubt. Unfortunately many of us know this paralysis.

And we also know this isn’t of the Lord. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but the Lord has come that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). This abundant life doesn’t have us shrinking in a corner, afraid to pursue the dreams the Lord once laid on our hearts for serving Him.

Why do we lose sight of our visions? Our dreams? Many of us have felt the untimely sting of a crushed dream – maybe a dream deferred or even permanently gone. And for some of us, it’s difficult to allow ourselves to become a person of vision again. We desperately need the Lord to teach us how to embrace curiosity again.

By the grace of God, I was led to marry the most wonderful of men – a man who dreams unashamedly. He has visions of grandeur for the future of what the Lord will do in His life and ours together. And he’s not hampered by the failures of His past. So why do some maintain that spirit of while others allow it to slip away?

I think the answer is simple. Some of us have allowed fear to dominate our lives. We’ve allowed fear of our past failures or struggles to stop us from having vision for the future. We’ve allowed fear of the unknown to deter us from trying something new. We’ve allowed doubts about the future looming ahead to steal our adventure. And we’ve found ourselves not in a place of growing curiosity but rather cynical certainty. Illogical certainty that even though we’ve not been in that future place, we will fail. We will hurt. We will be ashamed. If you find yourself there now but are crying out for release from your self-imposed prisons, I’m right there with you friend! But I am equally encouraged and challenged to remember that 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that God gave us a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline, not fear and timidity.

I have the immense privilege of being the momma to my 11 month old son Elias. He’s a beautiful gift of our gracious Father: the most tender of love I’ve felt for this little man. And as I spend my days with him, I witness his constant curiosity for life. He’s curious to know how things work, what things feel like, where hallways lead: he hits the toilet paper roll over and over again, watching it endlessly spin; he repeatedly rubs his hands and feet on the sheets in his bed before falling asleep at naps or bedtime, as if trying to take in the sensations over and over again; and he speeds down corridors toward the great unknown around each bend. He’s curious for what he doesn’t know, and it leads him boldly into that unknown place.

A couple of days ago, Elias’ curiosity resulted in him falling down our stairs in our home. I can’t see the future, but as I saw him teeter backwards and knew that I wasn’t going to be able to catch him in time, no greater fear could have overwhelmed me. After learning that he was okay, I shook and cried and hugged him tight. But you know what he was doing the next day? Climbing the stairs.

Now I know many of us would assert that his audacity to go back to the stairs isn’t that remarkable; after all, he doesn’t have the memory capacity to process danger. Yes, this is true. But isn’t it also true that of all people in the world that our Lord Jesus could have told us to be like, he asks us to be like children?

In Matthew 18:1-4 Jesus is asked by his disciples, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” His response: “And calling to him a child, he put him the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”

The key ingredient that Elias has right now that we adults lack? Humility. As C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” The gift of childhood? They’re generally fairly unaware of self. {Now, I’m not suggesting that they’re totally selfless; I’ve seen my son throw a couple of tantrums that solidify he’s fully aware of what he thinks he deserves.} But they’re most often actively enjoying the elements of the kingdom of heaven that are present in this earth, not so concerned with their own greatness but rather drawn to the greatness others and objects around them.

That next day, when Elias decided to travel back up the steps, I was right there with him. Although I hadn’t been able to protect him the day before, I helped him now as he toddled up the steps that had terrified him the day before. But you know what he didn’t do? He didn’t waste his energy looking up at me to ask if I’d be faithful to be present to catch him should he fall this time. He just practiced those stairs with me close by.

I’m so convicted. How often do I allow those times when the Lord was allowing me to learn a lesson to become a rational for not trusting him in the future? I forget the goodness of God. I allow past failures and hurts and broken dreams to cause me to doubt that the Lord will be faithful in the future. How do I know that God isn’t crying with us in the aftermath of our hurts, holding onto us tight and apologizing for the hurt that we just had to endure? How do we know God isn’t tightly and tenderly loving on us? (Obviously, the difference here being that God must allow certain hurts to pass to us, but they’re not out of his control – a topic for another day.)

The promises of God are right and true. And he will be faithful because he can be nothing but. We don’t have to turn around and ask if he’ll be present on our next adventure. He’s got a plan that nothing will alter. And if we’ll open our eyes to the immense blessings around us, we’ll see that God is always covering us in his immense love for us.

Rather than asking, “Where were you?” perhaps we should consider the mercies of the moment.

Rather than blaming him for not protecting us from everything, perhaps we should thank him for the growth that comes only through the refining power of hardships.

Rather than fearing the future, perhaps we should trust in the absolute truth and reassurance that God is already there.

Rather than doubting in the Lord’s ability to bring about big things from our meager efforts, perhaps we should trust that he is glorified in ways beyond our understanding when we take time to pour love into only one other person.

Rather than wondering whether God will be faithful, perhaps we should consider the many ways he’s already been faithful to us.

Sunday, my pastor spoke candidly with us about resting despite restlessness. As we studied Psalm 37, we were reminded of several pressing truths that shift the way we view our daily life here. Verse 7 states, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices.” My pastor then articulated the following point: when I fret impatiently about life, trust in God’s perfect timing. He went on to compare this process to a kid traveling in the car on family vacation. Rather than asking, “are we there yet,” we should rest. We should rest in the Lord and be satisfied in his goodness. We should enjoy the beautiful gifts we’re given along the way of this life as we fight forward, surrendering all things to the Lord in prayer. How do we do that? We focus on and believe in his enduring promises to us. Our circumstances don’t alter that. Our feelings don’t alter that.

As I was preparing to write this most recent post, I was struck by the appropriateness of the lyrics to Elevation Worship’s “Your Promises” playing on my Pandora station. I want to share just a few of these words as a final encouragement to our souls to focus on the promises of God and embrace our visions for the adventure that is our life in Christ once again!

When the weight of life begins to fall 
On the name of Jesus I recall
For I know my God is in control
And his purpose is unshakeable

Doesn’t matter what I feel
Doesn’t matter what I see
My hope will always be your promises to me
Now I’m casting out all fear
For your love has set me free
My hope will always be in your promises to me

As I walk into the days to come
I will not forget what you have done
For you have supplied my every need
And your presence is enough for me

Doesn’t matter what I feel
Doesn’t matter what I see
My hope will always be your promises to me
Now I’m casting out all fear
For your love has set me free
My hope will always be in your promises to me

You will be always be more than enough for me
Nothing’s going to stop the plans you made
Nothing’s going to take your love away
You will always be more than enough for me

Let the adventure continue, sweet friends!

 

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