What if it's like driving a boat?

One of our favorite places in the world is my in-law’s cabin on a lake. We love to go there to swim, boat, and escape from the pressures of everyday life.

There is so much I love to do while I’m there, but there’s one thing I despise: I don’t like to drive the speedboat.

I like riding in the speed boat. I enjoy watching my kids ski or tube behind it. But, I flat out refuse to drive it. When I get behind the wheel, my heart thumps, my hands sweat, and my gut gets twisted in anxiety.

For some, driving a boat is easier than driving a car. There is wide open space in front of you. You don’t have to worry about staying in your lane or turning the right way. You simply watch for other boats, stay mindful of your speed, and go where you want to go… Which is exactly what I can’t handle. 

What if I don’t know where I want to go? What if I choose wrong? What if I direct the boat into danger? Why can’t someone just make lanes I can follow so I don’t mess this entire thing up???

So, my husband drives the boat, and I watch, missing out on what could be a grand adventure.

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There are many metaphors that could be used to describe God’s will. I used to think about it like a GPS. We drive, and God tells us where to go. If we go the wrong way, God reroutes us. There is a precise destination at the end that God will not fail to take us to.  Not only that, there is a best route to get there, and if we miss a turn, the drive is going to be much more frustrating.

There’s comfort in that idea. We are behind the wheel, but our lives are not ours to direct. It is simply our responsibility to follow wherever God tells us to go.

But what if God’s will is more like driving a boat? 

What if God is sitting next to us, sunglasses on, with a mischievous smile spread across His face. What if God is asking us that most dangerous of questions… Where do you want to go? 

Owning our desires is dangerous. What if I chose wrong? What if the risks are too high? What if I mess the whole thing up?

But what if that’s the grand adventure God is inviting you into? A life with God beside us, laughing in the wind, riding by our side in the spirit of possibility and wonder. Ready to help if we crash into a rock, but letting us step into the energy of forging out own way.

The wide open water is ahead of you. Where do you want to go?

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Revolution, Rule-Breaking, and Living Ordinary Adventures

My friend would stop by my dorm room to make the jaunt across campus, rain or shine. This journey wasn’t for class; it was for Revolution. Revolution was an eclectic group of Christ-followers, who would gather once a week to discuss what it looked like to radically follow Jesus in a world that pulls us in so many other directions. I was at a point in my faith when I was hungry for any and every discussion about the Bible and what it meant to be a Christian.

I didn’t say very much when I sat shoulder to shoulder with these others in a circle on a dorm room floor. (This may be, perhaps, one of the few times in my life that has been true.) I don’t think I made much of an impression on anyone else. But they made an impression on me. I absorbed their passion and learned from their wonderings. This group was an essential piece of my realization that either my faith meant everything or it meant nothing.

Revolution was one of the many nudges that pushed me towards a different path with my life. And for that, I am so grateful.

The organizers of this group were a couple: Adam and Christine. I admired them for their perspective, their relationship, and their passion to make the world a better place.

They went on from that group to get married, and live a life filled with adventures around the globe. They truly did become revolutionaries. For the last 14 years, as I have heard bits and pieces of their story, my esteem for them has only grown.

And so today, I am going to break one of my rules.

In 160+ posts, I have never done a book review on this site. It just seemed like an easy boundary to draw so that I would stay focused with my content. But Adam and Christine recently published a book. And over the weekend, I finished reading it. For so many reasons, I decided it would be a disservice to my readers to not let you know about it.

I cannot think of anyone who would not benefit from reading This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down without Settling by Christine and Adam Jeske. I say this from having read a copy of the book that I purchased with my own money. I say this without profiting personally in any way from the endorsement.

I recommend this book for a simple reason: it is good. This Ordinary Adventure is engaging, genuine, and challenging.

The stories of Christine and Adam’s adventures living in Nicaragua, China, and South Africa made it difficult for me to put this book down. I was surprised, though, at what these stories didn’t do: they didn’t make me feel inadequate. Instead of feeling like I had failed God or missed out because I have never ridden a motorcycle down an African road, I felt inspired to live more fully right where I am.

I think this book can be summed up by one of my favorite quotes from within it:

“Faith invites, enables, finds the bridge across the chasm. And then we have to walk it. Listen. Believe. Go. See God there. Repeat. Every day, every year. As long as life endures.”

That is how I want to live my life. If it sounds good to you, too, please pick up a copy of this book today. You won’t be sorry.

Evaluations, Decision-Making, and Answered Prayer

My son starts kindergarten in a few weeks. {Insert big gulp here.} I can’t believe I’m old enough to have a kindergartner. The passage of time seriously freaks me out. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was braiding my friend’s hair on the bus as we rode to a cross-country meet? Now, suddenly, I’ve been married 12 years and have two kids, one of whom is about to be in elementary school. This is full-fledged adulthood people.

As we embark on this big transition, there have been several steps to get him, and us, ready for his first day of school.

He had a kindergarten camp where he spent a week of mornings at his new school. He created art projects and made friends and got used to hearing Spanish from his teacher. (He will be going to a Spanish immersion school.)

He had a school bus safety event, where we around a few blocks in a school bus. He heard the bus driver talk about choosing where to sit and keeping voices low and getting off at his stop and telling the driver if he had a tummy ache.

He had an early childhood screening, where I took him to a community center. I answered questions about how he learns and someone checked his height and a teacher asked him questions about what word rhymes with cat.

After each of these preparations, I was told something important: my son is ready for kindergarten.

It’s comforting to hear. To know that other people think my son is ready affirms our decision to send him. To know more about what is coming strengthens his confidence to go.

Don’t you wish more of life was like this?

What if, before we took a new job, we had this kind of preparation? A week-long camp where we did the job at 1/3 time and got an introduction to what it would be like. A driver who took us around and talked about what to expect at each corner. An evaluation that gave us a non-biased opinion on whether our brains and bodies were ready for the new things we would learn and experience.

It would make decision-making a whole lot easier.

Our longing for the kind of confirmation and guidance we got as children sometimes paralyzes us as adults.

When we face big decisions, it’s often how we pray. We ask God to show us the way to go. To prove to us that the next step we are going to take is the right one. To confirm that we aren’t going to screw things up by trying this new thing. To let us know whether our we are ready for what will come our way.

And then we sit. Stuck. Halted until God tells us exactly what to do.

The problem is, God is usually not that specific. God doesn’t treat us like kindergartners, He treats us like adults.

Because really, what would our lives look like if answered prayers for guidance looked like kindergarten evaluations? Wouldn’t we slowly loose our abilities to make decisions, even over simple things? Wouldn’t we begin to question whether God was stifling us by not showing us multiple options? Wouldn’t we begin to think of God more as an Administrator than a Creator or a Lover?

God loves us too much to take the adventure out of the life He created for us.

I think of the adventure God gave the Israelites as He led them out of Egypt and into the desert. He didn’t evaluate their readiness or show them how everything would work out. He didn’t even give them a map.

God gave the Israelites a pillar. By day, a cloud that shielded them from the harsh heat of the desert sun. By night, a fire that protected them from the cold and frightening darkness. Day and night, a beacon that showed them God’s direction. A comfort that showed them God’s presence.

When we pray for God to guide our life decisions, I think this picture is in line with how He often answers. He doesn’t tell us each step, but He leads us in a direction. He doesn’t protect us from everything, but He shields us from some of the harshest realities. And in the midst of the decision and wherever life takes us afterwards, God shows us His presence.

God is our pillar.

How have you seen God answer prayers for guidance in your life?