O Adventure, Where Art Thou
By Andrew Greenhalgh
It’s funny how quickly life takes a turn on you. One moment you’re playing a kid-concocted combo of Indiana Jones, Star Wars – with a liberal dose of Rambo – and The Karate Kid, tossed in to keep things interesting, and the next you’re married with kids, have an 8 to 5 job, bills, a house, and all the trimmings. Just like that, the time has flown. And lately, as I’ve come up for a breath of air, I’ve decided that somewhere along the line I’ve gotten lost.
Let me clarify. As a kid, I was always a pretty adventurous sort. Never would I turn tail when it came to running through the woods, diving into ditches, or throwing rotten tomatoes at the bad guys. I’ve been chased by my share of fireworks, shot with a BB gun, and scored my share of touchdowns, lay-ups and more, throughout the years. Those were easy years, times of adventure, imagination, and a never-ending sense of wonder.
For those days after school, or those long summers, I was Indiana Jones, in pursuit of the latest, greatest artifact, burrowing beneath handcrafted tunnels of dirt and debris. (True story: As a child, the neighbor kids and myself constructed, from three large mounds of fill dirt, some 2×4′s, and tin sheeting, an elaborate series of interconnecting tunnels that would’ve made the Viet Cong proud. Suffice it to say, this is a story that I’ll wait to tell my children about, until they’re older.)
Wonder and challenge lurked behind every corner and in every nook and cranny, and my friends and I were ready for the challenge.
Now, of course, we’re all human and, by proxy, have to do that most dirty of deeds known as growing up. But, does that mean the adventure ends? Of course not! We get to tackle puberty, one of the most surreal of challenges to be had! And there’s girls! And sports! And high school and college! Then comes the monumental task of selecting a career, of finding your first apartment, of marriage for many, and then of children. These are all some of the greatest adventures that life has to offer and, as a parent, I’m speaking from experience on this one.
You haven’t lived until your three-year-old daughter yells at the top of her lungs from atop the toilet, “Daddy! Come wipe my butt!” That, my friends, is adventure at it’s finest.
But my problem lies in the fact that, to some degree, those ventures ultimately must end, or, at the very least, lose their sense of excitement. At the risk of being callous or insensitive, I’ve accomplished the tasks of marriage, kids, college degree, and the like. Those things that are the base elements of our dreams early on have been fulfilled for me, and I’m eternally thankful and blessed. And those things aren’t necessarily at their completion either. As my wife and children will gladly remind you, I’m still a work in progress, and I still need plenty of help to be a good husband and father. Likewise, in Christ, I’m still learning, still growing, and still developing in Him. That’s something that will never change.
Yet the truth remains that my world has changed. Where once I thrived on the demands of sports (Be the best!) or courtship (Wow, she’s hot!), life has seen fit to rearrange things a bit for me. Now, my greatest obstacles lie more in the mundane and often in those things that I haven’t necessarily chosen to tackle with passion. I’m sure some of you can identify with the clear, ahem, joy that I feel when I get to mow the lawn, trim the weeds, haul out the trash, cook dinner, and reread the same “Dora the Explorer” and “Barney” books each and every night; three times each. And while these things are beautiful in their own right, I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me that, deep down, longed for yet more.
Ultimately, I find myself in need of new adventures in order to find new direction. The stagnant life is the spoiled life and I have no desire to wander those halls. I want to live life to it’s fullest and to experience what God has truly called out to me in John 10:10b (MSG): “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” I want that life!
Ah, but there’s the rub. Technically, I already have it, right? If I’m in Christ, then Christ lives in me and, therefore, the key to the adventure lies in my life with Him. But how do we harness that adventure, that need for something deeper, something greater, that thing that takes us to the next level? Well, I don’t have the concrete answer, but I do believe that old adage: “The journey of a thousand miles is best begun by the first step.” Matthew 7:7 (NIV) challenges us to, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Likewise, James 1:5 encouragingly reminds us that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
So for me, seeking out the face of God is my first step. I’m believing that He’ll meet me in the doldrums of complacency and will kick start a brand new adventure, an adventure that’ll carry me forever. For those facing the same challenges, I invite you to join my on my knees before our loving and holy God, as I seek His face and His direction. For those who’ve already walked this road, we seek your encouragement, your friendship, and your love along the way.
In the meantime, I’m gonna watch some Rambo to get the blood flowing. What’s that? Maybe not. I’ve got to go wipe somebody’s butt…
Andrew is an author for Third Option Men, a ragtag bunch of bloggers that share one main passion: true discipleship.