UNLEASHED Vol. 11 – Adventure

Adventure can mean different things to different people.  There are adrenaline junkies whose adventure sounds like injuries and an ambulance to me, and there are guys whose idea of adventure makes me feel like taking a nap.  I’d put myself somewhere in the middle of the bell curve on this one.  Adventure is often in nature, but it doesn’t have to be.  Adventure is not always a one-time activity or trip, it could be a lifelong decision to do a certain thing.  As I’ve been praying and preparing for this topic God has been loud and clear about a few things; that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), that He has made each of us uniquely different with certain strengths and weaknesses, that true adventure should bring us closer to Him while making us feel invigorated and alive, and adventure can be different for each individual but man has a connection to nature that can’t be denied.  “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” – John Muir

    1. Adam, the first man (Genesis 1 & 2).  Put yourself in his shoes for a minute.  You’re surrounded by an amazing beautiful garden, lush colors everywhere, sweet smells from all directions, interesting and unique noises near and far, waterfalls, sunshine, and mystery behind every tree and bush.  Adam got to live an adventure designed by God from the get go.  Think of it, he had no idea what anything in the garden was, it was all new to him, all made for him, there was an adventure waiting around every turn. Imagine how intimate the two of them must have been, very close, very comfortable, safe, strong, and pure.  Imagine then, God leading him around, giving him a bit of direction, and then giving him the adventurous task of naming and conquering EVERYTHING!!! (Genesis 2:19-20).  Obviously God knew he designed man to have some imagination and creativity in order to pull off that task.  Imagine the thrill, the rush Adam must have felt each day as he explored, hiked, climbed, swam, discovered new things, and boldly walked through the mystery of the unknown.
      1. We all have a piece of Adam within us; a unique connection to nature, a longing for adventure, mystery, and thrill.  To feel alive or to “come alive” and to connect with the Father.  All of which arguably happens most prevalently in nature, at the source.
      2. I think we often feel that same sense of thrill or rush that Adam felt as we embark on adventures; trusting God to get us through the unknown; that is IF we go there… because often we don’t…
      3. John Eldredge has a whole chapter about living an adventure in his book Wild at Heart.  I love this paragraph on page 202, “Life is not a problem to be solved; it is an adventure to be lived.  That’s the nature of it and has been since the beginning when God set the dangerous stage for this high-stakes drama and called the whole wild enterprise good.  He rigged the world in such a way that it only works when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, which is to say, only when we live by faith.  A man just won’t be happy until he’s got adventure in his work, in his love, and in his spiritual life.”
        1. I love how John was able to add in issues we face since the fall: danger, fear, and risk.
        2. We can’t always control everything or know the outcome before we start, there is no adventure there.  The sense of mystery and the unknown is essential in adventure.
      4. Wild at Heart page 210, “The greatest obstacle to realizing our dreams is the false self’s hatred of mystery.  That’s a problem, you see, because mystery is essential to adventure.  More than that, mystery is the heart of the universe and the God who made it.”
    2. Healthy and unhealthy adventure
      1. “To recover his heart’s desire a man needs to get away from the noise and distraction of his daily life for time with his own soul.  He needs to head into the wilderness, to silence and solitude.  Alone with himself, he allows whatever is there to come to the surface.” – John Eldredge
        1. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir
        2. There is a spiritual discipline called solitude.  “To quiet oneself” Matthew 14:23, there is nothing new about man’s need to slow down to listen to God.

 

  • I do think we need to “unplug” from time to time.  To get out in nature for a time to reconnect and listen to God and our souls.  WE HAVE TO SLOW DOWN to be able to listen.  No cell phone, no TV, no distractions, not even family.  If we don’t give God time to talk to us, how do we ever expect to hear from Him?

 

          1. This is where your daily devotional life is so essential, to take a short time every day to devote yourself to staying close to Him.
          2. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

 

  • I used to think getting out into nature was the adventure.  It certainly can be and is, but it is not the only adventure.  I think getting into nature and slowing down is an adventure in itself but also a critical vehicle to getting some solitude for listening to God’s voice.  I’ve completely realized that I need that time in nature, cell phone off for a few days (does the thought of that scare you?) to diffuse from the stress of everyday life, slow down, and connect to God’s voice speaking to me.  We have to give God our undivided attention to really focus in and to actually be able to hear Him, then bring the direction of His will back into our everyday life where He leads us to adventure there.  

 

        1. Nature adventures – for me have been spread out throughout my life, as each gets closer to the present day, I have heard God more clearly and more intensely!!!
          1. Countless days as a kid exploring woods, fishing, catching any animal I could get my hands on, building forts, getting sun burnt, getting dirty and having a blast in God’s creation.
          2. Growing up many family trips on spring break exploring the U.S.
          3. 1993, 8th grade I went on a hiking trip through Spring Hill Camp, traveled to Colorado to climb Mt. Harvard for two weeks.
          4. 1998, 12th grade I went to the Bahamas with my church youth group where we sailed and lived on catamarans for a week.
          5. 2012, I went to a men’s retreat called Heart’s Alive and Free, put on by Go the Distance Ministries.  This was a huge spiritual marker for me; a huge reason I am even writing this today.  I heard God so clearly there, it changed my life.
          6. This one may or may not apply directly, but I spend a half a day weekly working in my yard mowing, weed whacking, gardening, and landscaping.  For me this weekly “recharge” is so essential.  While I am out there I’m thinking, praying, listening, contemplating…  Even though it is physical labor it energizes me, reconnects me intimately with God, and make me come alive!!!
        2. Life adventures – for me these are the “big” things in life that often seem hard, intimidating, and scary but are often great!
          1. Dating.  You know, all that fear, stress, anxiety, butterflies and exhilaration when she said “yes” when you thought for sure she would say “no.”
          2. College.  Wow, where to begin on this topic.  Girls, class, sports, friends, freedom, mistakes, challenges, victories, failures, and lots of the unknown.
          3. Career.  Teaching and coaching.  Yep, a big one.
          4. Marriage.  Huge one!
          5. Having kids of our own. Huge one!
          6. Family camping.  Trying to have a common adventure with my wife and family.
          7. Ministry.  For me finally obeying God’s will and no longer debating with Him in my head as I had done for years…  3:18 Men of Freedom!!!
          8. Foster Care.  Huge one!
    1. Healthy adventure
      1. I think healthy adventure first and foremost WILL draw you closer to God and it will come from God.  It will make you come alive, it will bring you joy, it will be fun!  There is a boy in all of us that wants to get out and play, we have to let him out sometimes.  Not all pleasure is sin.  “The world needs men who have come alive” – John Eldredge.
      2. Healthy adventure is not selfish.  You will often have adventures with others, so I think healthy adventures will help you build strong positive relationships with others.
      3. Healthy adventures are not always a hiking trip in nature, though it certain is.  They can be anything in life where you are living by faith and obedience to God.  They can be by yourself or with others.
      4. Healthy adventure will challenge you.  There should be some element of risk and mystery involved.
    2. Unhealthy adventure
      1. The number one factor to identify here is that unhealthy adventure will NOT bring you closer to God.
      2. Unhealthy adventures will be at the extremes of mystery and risk.  Either so calculated that they are dead and predictable, or so risky that you are in great danger of some kind whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
      3. Otherwise, unhealthy adventures will often have the look and appeal of something great.  They will probably give you a lot of what you’re looking for; thrill, rush, alive (short lived), fulfilled (short lived) but may cause you to lose balance or priorities in life and end up hurting others or sacrificing more than is healthy for you or your family.  Psalm 73:7 “From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.”  If it’s an adventure from some selfish or ulterior motive, clearly it is not from God and evil is at the center, not God.
      4. Lies from the enemy can get you to chase after false idols that promise something they can’t fulfill.  James 1:13-15 “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  Unhealthy adventure doesn’t give life, it takes it.  You might think it makes you feel alive, but really it’s killing you.
        1. Eldredge addresses this on page 209 in Wild at Heart, “.  Alone with himself, he allows whatever is there to come to the surface.  Sometimes it is grief for so much lost time.  There, beneath the grief, are desires long forsaken.  Sometimes it even starts with temptation, when a man thinks that what will really make him come alive is something unholy.  At that point he should ask himself, ‘What is the desire beneath this desire?  What is it I’m wanting that I think I’ll find there?’”
        2. There are lots of unhealthy adventures out there to be had and they may not always seem like temptations.  Be alert!  Always check your motives.
  1. Obstacles to Adventure: The enemy
    1. Satan’s lies
      1. Satan will stop at nothing to reduce your life to the most boring, rut ridden shell possible.  He wants you to feel bored, lifeless, alone, and stagnant.  He will make adventure seem too risky, too costly, too hard, and out of your control.
      2. He wants you to believe your story is the source of your shame, so hide.  “It’s safer here where you are, don’t take a risk, and don’t expose who you really are.”
      3. Or he will lie to you.  He will try to tempt you to follow something unholy and ensnare you in sinful adventure.
    2. The World
      1. This world is constantly trying to break us down and take away our fun and joy.  The world tries to get us to buy into its lies, “Hold the line and work hard, forget adventure, forget your dreams.”  “Sex, money, and power are where you want to go.”
      2. The world wants to distract you from God and from your dreams.
      3. The world will try to get you so busy you don’t have time for adventure.
    3. The Flesh
      1. Passivity, in our flesh birthed from our shame and fear.  Man’s original sin.
      2. We come up with a million excuses not to leave our comfort zone, not to adventure, not to step into the unknown.  We are Bilbo Baggins.
      3. The flesh wants a simple, easy, predictable, controlled, safe, and self-centered agenda.
      4. Romans 8:5-6 “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
      5. Our flesh causes us to avoid adventure with ourselves, it also causes us to stop adventuring with our wives. Or it will give into unhealthy adventure and we will hide to protect it.
  2. The solution?  Battle well for your life of adventure!  Cling to your links of support!
    1. Link #1 God:
      1. The Father tells us our story is tied to our glory and ultimately His glory!  Our glory does not come from effort but from surrender!
      2. Pray, seek Him and His will.  “Seek and you shall find.” 1 Chronicles 28:9.
      3. Ask God to guide you, to lead you, to show you where He has adventure for you.  Be imaginative and creative when you pray, don’t limit God to what you think adventure is, see what He thinks.  Ask Him to denounce all fear, doubt, passivity, and shame that may get in the way.
      4. Ask Him to destroy doubt, 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
      5. Ask him to banish fear and passivity Psalm 23:1-2 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”  Trust Him and His goodness!!!
    2. Link #2 Wife:
      1. Include her in adventure.  Communicate with her about it, no matter what it is.  Daydream together.  Pray about it together!  Do it TOGETHER!!!
      2. Have a common adventure.  If you don’t have one yet, create one together!  Give her an intricate and irreplaceable role in the adventure.  She is engineered for adventure too!  She wants to come along side you and have a common adventure with you.
      3. Having a common adventure builds relationship and creates lasting memories.  It will bring you closer to God and to each other.  It will give you something to look forward to together, something to plan for, to anticipate, and to enjoy.
      4. Lead her, guide her, but let her be a part of it!
    3. Link #3 Brothers:
      1. Adventure together!  Again, it will help you draw closer to God and to the relationships you have with your brothers in Christ.
      2. The more you adventure together, the closer you will become and the stronger your trust will be in each other.  The more trust you have, the more likely you will be willing to and will want to “go deep” with authenticity and being “known” with each other.
      3. We all love stories.  We all long to be a part of stories; have common adventures where the story gets created.  You know, when one guy starts telling a story and others begin chiming in to add details and laughs; that’s what it is all about: connecting, relating, coming alive, and growing together.
      4. Do life together, plan “man” time; it could be something small, or a big trip.  Have time often, we need it as men, make it a priority under God and family.  I think guy adventures no matter how big or small are often fun, but also provide unique opprotunity to challenge each other and encourage growth.
        1. I try to build in a few nights a month to have as guy nights for fun.  But I have found as I have invested time into those relationships we also “go deep” naturally now and work through life’s challenges together.  We have fun together, but we also encourage each other, challenge each other, and care/pray for each other.
        2. I have small group twice a month, and as a ministry we lead a once a month event.  Some of this is definitely mini adventure.  Most of our 3:18 Men of Freedom monthly events certainly have some element of adventure in them whether it is a holy hike, building for Habitat for Humanity, or playing golf (FORE! Trust me, if you play golf with me, it’s an adventure).
        3. I need it.  I find when I get this kind of time, it makes me come alive and I’m able to be better in the rest of life because I’m refreshed, renewed, and refocused.  I realize I’m not alone, I’ve got guys adventuring with me and battling for me.  I see God’s hand in those relationships as I battle for them and see growth and change, so in turn I feel closer connected to God as well.
      5. Pray together, battle for each other!  There is TONS of spiritual adventure in battle!!!
      6. Share stories.  One of the biggest emotional and spiritual adventures you can go on is to share your life story with your brothers.  Be totally transparent and authentic.  The more known you are with your brothers, the better friendships you will have and the better resources you can be for each other.
      7. Encourage one another
        1. To adventure with their wives and families.
        2. To be authentic and share your life stories.
        3. To get solitude and make devotional time a priority.
  3. Questions to ponder:
    1. Is your life filled with adventure?  Is it healthy adventure drawing you closer to God?
    2. Are you adventuring with your wife together?
    3. If not, why not?
    4. What are you afraid of that is holding you back?
    5. Are you adventuring with some of your brothers in Christ?
    6. Has life killed the dream you dreamed?
    7. Do you have any unhealthy adventures you need to surrender and get rid of?

Men, remember we are all a work in progress.  It is not about perfection, it is about the journey towards adventure!!!  I am still working on much of this.  It is still one of the hardest things for me to pursue my wife and have a common adventure.  It the busyness of life, the enemy is so good at distracting me and pulling me down where I often miss the boat for adventure.

We have to keep our eyes up and keep our focus on God, on His design, and fight for joy, fight for adventure.  You can do it; it takes surrender and discipline but though our God we can do anything!

In Christ,

NickVandenBerg
3:18 Men of Freedom
Team Leader

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One comment

  1. Wow, this is an incredible post. I know this is a page for men, but I really enjoyed reading this so I had to comment. It really opened my eyes to adventure and I now can look at it from a whole new place. My fiancee loves adventure and always wants me to be a part of it. I have to admit a lot of the times I do allow the feeling of security, fear and doubt to control my mind with adventure. After reading this, I want to venture into the wilderness with a new perspective. Put fear aside and allow trust, peace and calm to take over.

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