Thursday, February 26, 2015

When Your Heart Craves Adventure

My girl hates color by number, I just learned. She is devastated that someone else decided which colors she should use and where to apply them. Her brother, on the other hand, is happy someone took the time to show him exactly how it’s supposed to look.

For Valentine’s Day, their Ammy gave each a Color By Number notepad, complete with little black numbers painted on tiny markers. The two of us exchanged baffled looks that night at the difference in their responses to her thoughtful gift.  Jake was ecstatic, Lilly near tears. Eventually, we convinced Lilly it's ok to do her own thing. This morning I found both coloring pads out on the table when I got home from taking them to preschool.

I am bent toward coloring my life by number, choosing the predictable and playing it safe. I love adventure, but I’d much rather God give me a travel itinerary of where we’re heading so I can plan accordingly.  (Apparently, that’s not His thing.) My limited mind decides the sun should only be yellow, but God paints sunrises in blues, reds, oranges, and sometimes purples. No two pictures ever look the same. Real adventure spills outside of the lines, unexpected and completely magnificent.

I crave adventure, but I have a very limited scope of what adventure truly is.

The Israelites’ adventure is documented in the book of Numbers.  Reading the long lists of names and numbers, I wonder how they could possibly relate to me, here and now.  But this record kept by Moses reminds me that I am on an adventure with the same God who led the Israelites to the Promised Land all those generations ago. He led them every step of the way and He’s leading me, too.  He commands both my going and my staying.

At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses. (Numbers 9:23 ESV)

Adventure, to me, is charting new territory despite the risks that exist outside my comfort zone. Staying doesn’t seem adventurous.  Camped in Hebrew means ‘bent down’ and I can’t help but think about the humility that’s required to wait on God to move.

I’m in a season of God whispering, “Stay put.

And can I be honest? I hate camping.  I want to know why we’re here and how long we’ll be staying, but God is just so silent about all that. My venting reminds me that anger on the surface always means fear within. This feels more like a standoff than an adventure, and I’m afraid I’m missing out.

Towards the end of Numbers is a detailed account of the Israelites’ travels. I can’t get over the repetition… and the monotony.  For over forty verses, there’s a familiar cadence: They set out and camped... and they set out and camped… and they set out and camped… and they set out and camped… (See Numbers 33:5-49) I am struck with how unadventurous the whole thing sounds. Maybe I've been looking at this adventure thing all wrong.

The people knew exactly when to move and exactly when to wait because God appeared to them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night.  This visible representation of the Presence of God hovered over the tabernacle, their tent of meeting. God lived among His people and He communicated with them. When the cloud moved, the people moved.  When the cloud hovered, they lingered, waiting for God to advance once more. 

The God who colors wildly out of the lines chose the most fascinating way to lead His people, and He never left them, not once. It was a mysterious and passionate way to display not only His power, but also His desire to be among His people. But the ugly presence of sin meant the people could only approach Him through the high priest and by the blood of animal sacrifice. The cloud was only a shadow of what was to come. God already knew that one day, generations later, He would replace the old way with a new, more perfect way.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12 ESV)

Fully God and fully man, Jesus is the perfect depiction of God's glory.
He is the visible representation of the invisible God.
In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (See Colossians 1:15,19)

And still, the people missed it.  Just like me. They were so focused on where they were going or where they were staying, that they missed out on the adventure right in front of them. True adventure is more than the waiting, the pausing, or camping. It’s more than the wonder of new places and the thrill of new experiences, and it’s more than my miniscule part in His great story. We serve a God with an uninhibited heart who created adventure for us to experience with Him. And He loves us recklessly.

The adventure isn't found in the staying or in the setting out; true adventure can only be found in the God who dwells among us.

Listening for His voice, seeking His face, trusting His promises- these are the makings of an enchanted and riveting adventure.  When your heart longs for risk and you crave adventure deep in your soul, look no further than the One who left His throne in heaven to rescue you and make you His forever.

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