Adventure: Expectation and Anticipation
This month I continue the exploration of the word adventure that I have begun to use to describe the Christian life. As with any one word, the word adventure carries its own limitations, but I do believe it is an apt word, and if unpacked has much to teach/remind us of concerning the Christian life.
Before beginning this month’s unpacking of adventure, I would like to address a reservation that a number of people have voiced regarding using the word adventure as a descriptor for living the Christian life. They have said adventure is not a serious enough word, seems flippant, weak—not able to convey the struggles and hardships—the world hating you, the battle with principalities and powers, the tribulations and daily troubles that Jesus speaks about as being a part of everyday life. I think this is a valid concern and I would even agree that the word adventure, as popularly used, has a “fun” feel to it, but I also believe that adventure can encompass the realities and difficulties of living in a broken world, of living in the now/not yet of God’s kingdom. I will return to this in the coming months.
Now on to this month’s musing. My focus is on two words that I associate with adventure—expectation and anticipation. We often come into something with preconceived expectations, a particular sense of anticipation, but this is not possible when it comes to being on an adventure since by nature it has an unknown quality to it. We may have some inklings of what might unfold, what this adventure may entail, but those are not certain. What we do know when it comes to the adventure of the Christian life is that we have a trusted guide, one who faithfully lived among us and through the Holy Spirit now lives within us and is leading us. Our expectation and anticipation is not a fixed mindset regarding the exact outcomes of our plans for the day, the week, the month, the year—even our life—rather it speaks to an openness to enter into and embrace the realities of the emerging adventure that result from a deeply held belief that God is involved in our life, walking with us, inviting us to follow, calling us by name. Because God is involved in our lives we expect and anticipate God actually leading us much as Jesus was led through life.
As we come to realize that we are not on this adventure alone but have a leader to guide us through our adventure, our sense of who our leader is becomes very important. Do I see my leader as trustworthy, powerful, wise and one who cares for me, about me and loves me? The degree that we have internalized a deep sense of the goodness and trustworthiness of our guide will go a long way toward helping us follow our leader along through the quiet meadows, along the still waters, through the valley of the shadow of death, even in the midst of being surrounded by our enemies—encouraging us to be expectant, anticipating the leading of God throughout our days, weeks, months, years.
I see this displayed with my grandchildren. Because they have experienced my wife and myself as loving, kind, gracious, involved, powerful, and that we are for them, when they come to visit they come with an expectation and anticipation that something is going to happen—something familiar, or new, even dangerous—lines may be crossed—it is an adventure! They do not know what this particular adventure(s) will look like or encompass but they are more than willing to enter into the adventure as it unfolds, for they have come to know, trust and experience the love and care we have for them.
All this recalls to mind a wondrous translation of a verse in the Message; “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” ” (Romans 8:15) This passage reminds me of our grandchildren’s attitude, for it conveys a childlike trust and an accompanying expectant/anticipatory internal posture that births excitement and spontaneously exclaims; “What’s next, Papa?”
Now I invite you to look at your life in terms of the adventure of your faith. Would you describe your life in Christ more along the lines of a timid, grave-tending life, or one characterized as “adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” What could you name in your own life that would confirm your answer?
What about you and God? How would you describe your experience with God? What is your heart-cultivated image of God—not so much what you know, but what you most deeply believe to be true about who God is, how God feels about you, the degree that you feel that God is with you and for you? What is it in your own life that keeps you from this childlike trust of God? Share your feelings, discoveries, your struggles with God.
What would it look like to begin each day with a “What next, Papa?” and continue with that mindset throughout your day? What might hold you back from living life that way?
Back to Food for Thought