The adventure begins. Just reading that #LiveFreeThursday prompt made my eyes light up and my smile grow. I am all about adventure. (To understand this better, you’d have to read one of my previous #LiveFreeThursday posts.) I haven’t always been. Adventure once terrified me. I preferred my happy little home with two cars and three kids and one cat.
Maybe it was the advent of, at one point, 22 other pets that started the yearning for adventure. Maybe it was the mission trip to China. Maybe it was falling in love with JRR Tolkien and his courageous hobbits. Maybe it was God.
All I know is that somewhere while I was just doing normal life, adventure-craving crept in and made me discontent with the way things had always been. I wanted to hear from God that there was more.
And there was.
God has taken me on many adventures since then. But what comes to mind today when I read this prompt—the adventure begins—is not how to begin an adventure. It’s what to do when the adventure isn’t beginning—and you are waiting. And you don’t know how long the wait will be.
Right now, in fact, I am chafing to embark on another adventure. I can see the trail, and it beckons with all the certainty of a God-path before me. Problem is, I’m waiting. Though I have certainty that it is what God has for me, I have no certainty that it will happen. That sounds contradictory. It is what it is.
I’m like Frodo keeping the ring secret and safe, but unlike Frodo, I want the adventure to begin. I long to set foot on the long trail to, well, not Mordor. I believe God has pleasanter places in mind this time. I’m standing on the seashore, hungry to dive in to the surf and let it carry me wherever God moves the tide.
But I can’t.
The messy reality is that this decision is tied up in denominational boards and church boards and confusing choices, and I am waiting on others to see what I see.
I don’t like waiting.
I am hungry, I am impatient, and I am restless, knowing the road is at my feet and I cannot put on the hiking boots and follow it. This doesn’t seem right. Yet, God always does right. And I must reconcile these two truths while I wait.
What do you do when you want to begin an adventure, but God makes you wait?
What happens when you’re standing, toe to the line, listening for the starting pistol, but it’s taking too long?
How do you cope when your bags are packed, but the tickets are hung up in the home office somewhere and you don’t know when or if they’ll ever be delivered?
First, you completely submit to God. OK, first, you yell and bite back angry retorts and cry. A lot. You cry for days. I mean, if you’re anything like me.
Then, you submit to God.
I am a strategic planner. I love creating avenues to get from Point A to Point B, and I’m good at figuring out the best path. That also means I’m bad at giving up those perfectly planned out paths and letting God (and others) move in a different direction. This adventure I’m waiting for has my name all over it. I see endless plans that could unfold. But they are my plans, and His plan is taking a more circuitous route. He has another goal that I don’t yet see.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3.5-6)
It’s not an adventure worth taking if it’s not His way and His timing. While my heart breaks and my hands ache to take on his new thing, I have to be still and know that though He may have put the adventure in my heart, he has His reasons for saying, “not yet.” My understanding is not to be depended on, no matter how strategic and certain.
Trust. That elusive decision that, when made, lands you on bedrock every time. Daily, as I feel the impatience rise, I choose to trust in the Lord with all my heart.
You realize it’s not all about you.
What’s the first thing we often do when God contradicts our plans? We ask Him what we’re supposed to learn from this. What lesson do you have for me, God? Where is the purpose? Because if I can find that and figure it out quickly, we can move on, right? The adventure can begin.
Wrong. You know what I’ve come to realize? Sometimes, it’s not about me. I know, shocker. But really, what if God’s plan is for someone else to learn something? What if the wait is so another person can hear from him? What if it has absolutely nothing to do with me, and I am in this holding pattern so his good purpose can be worked out for another soul? And I just get the
headache privilege of being one of his conduits for helping another?
It doesn’t always have to be about me. His plans are so much larger. There is an entire story, and I’m a small part of it, really. As Samwise Gamgee says, when he comes to understand that stories look very different from the outside than the inside, “I wonder what kind of a tale we’ve fallen into?” The best part of an adventure sometimes is that we can’t see the whole tale unfolding while we’re in it. We have to do our part and let the greater story be about someone else. Ultimately, about Jesus.
You stay faithful where you are.
If God has me staying put for now, he wants me to keep doing the original assignment with a full heart and soul. No daydreaming about where Id like to be. No straying off on my own. No letting things here be half-done halfheartedly because my heart is attached to something that is not yet mine. Stay faithful in what He’s given me to do.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15.58)
A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. (Matthew 24.45-47)
Though I want to begin a new adventure, for now, I will stay the course and be faithful where I am. There is as much courage in that as there is in striking out on a new road.
You keep your eyes open.
I’m still ready. I know change is in the air, because God has planted that in my heart. I don’t know when it will come. I believe I know where, but even that could be His surprise. My job is to stay alert to know when it is time. To make my plans, loosely but still prepared. To go with a ready heart and drawn up strategy for when he does say, “Let’s go.” To not settle in and get comfortable.
To work hard where I am yet plan for another place. To trust, to wait, to hold loosely, but to be ready. That’s what I’m doing while waiting for the adventure to unfold. I’v got my boots on. For now, they’re work boots, and that’s OK. Tomorrow, perhaps, they’ll be hiking boots.
And I can’t wait. But yet, I can.