Even as a very small child, I remember being fascinated with the idea of finding hidden places and secret passages. On road trips across the California desert I would pester my parents with cries of, “Stop! Go back! There was an old, abandoned shack….let’s go there!” Mom would make some point about trespassing on private property and Dad would just keep driving, both of them totally oblivious to the adventures just waiting to be had along the way!
I’m really not that much of a risk-taker ordinarily, but there is something about what’s “out there” that calls to me. I’ve always been a dreamer with a healthy imagination, (and, admittedly….haven’t always leaned heavily on logic), so my best adventures are the ones that aren’t planned or scripted. Well….at least they used to be.
When we were first married we would set off for a weekend out of town with only a faint idea of where we wanted to end up. We’d buy cheap gas, eat at greasy spoons and find a dive-y motel, because why would you want to waste money on just a place to sleep for the night? Or better yet, we’d take a two-person tent and look for campsites along the way….sometimes just throwing our sleeping bags down and sleeping under the stars. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was less OK with this than being in a tent, because I was convinced the thin layer of nylon would definitely serve as protection from wild beasts!)
I don’t even have to question when things began to change. We had children. =) Suddenly, I saw every bug in the roadside motels and travelling with toddlers is anything but light! Our tiny pop-up tent became a stately two-room manse and we made sure our camping destinations had clean restrooms with showers and electrical hook-ups. We still had adventures…loads of them! They just became better planned and….manageable.
And this just may remind me a bit of my life-long journey with God. In the early days of coming to Christ, everything was vibrant, fresh, clean and full of promise! Exploring God’s word was like taking hidden trails to unknown destinations, then finding treasures of knowledge and understanding. I couldn’t wait to discuss what I’d found with other adventurers, and I seemed to be growing in leaps and bounds. Such wonderful, care-free times! Then along the way, life did what life does…and though I was faithful and still reliant on God for guidance, strength and wisdom, things just got….well, busy! Kids, jobs, school, church, volunteer work….on and on the list goes of the many different paths we follow as we build our lives. And these are good! But there is a hidden danger in the busy-ness. If we’re not careful, in all of our “managing” of life, we may come to find that we’ve lost that spirit of adventure….of wonder….as we continue to live out our faith.
The past two years our family has been living at full-tilt emergency mode as we’ve faced tragedy and suffered loss after loss. In some ways, I’ve never felt more grounded in my faith as we’ve experienced God’s presence and definitely felt the prayers of many who have walked beside us on the way. But writing this Lenten journal has reminded me there is so much more to this journey with God than emergency prayers and coping with loss. It’s hard to feel vibrant and care-free right now….in fact it’s inconceivable that God expects us to!
So, my prayer not only for my family, but for all of us as we walk the path together along this season of Lent, is to embrace the lessons we are learning – from whatever place we’re learning them. It may be that you are feeling the stirrings of new life in your Spirit even now, and you are headed into a time of joyful abandon as you explore new paths of faith. Or….it may be that your heart is so heavy all you can do is just be held in God’s firm, warm embrace until you are strong enough to try again.
Wherever we find ourselves on Day 16, we can at least let go of having to “manage” it, and just let it be. Fall into grace, trust that God has many more exciting adventures just waiting for us around the bend, and just…..be. That’s a journey I believe I’m ready to take….even now. =)
“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you”.