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Ordeal Or Adventure?

I like to have a plan, and I want to stick to the plan. There have been times when "my plan" has caused me to be rigid when things don't go as I thought they should. When that happens, I can become anxious and a little grumpy. Well, okay, more than a little grumpy. I've realized over time that having a plan is good, but sometimes plans get detoured. Our daughter Megan reminds me of how important our attitudes are when plans change. She says, "Our attitude determines whether life is an ordeal or an adventure."

I have a friend who has taught me a lot about adventure. She is always embarking on daring endeavors. One time she decided to complete an epic quest in which she traversed four significant hikes in just a couple of weeks - one of those being the Grand Canyon. Wait, not just the Grand Canyon; she hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon in one day!

Usually, when someone hikes rim to rim of the vast Grand Canyon, they do it in two days. Not my friend….she hiked from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other rim in just one day! During this strenuous 20-plus mile hike, she and her group came across some other hikers who encouraged them to take a detour to see a beautiful waterfall off the regular trail. After considering whether to make that detour, my friend and her group decided because they had so much ground to cover, they would forego the side trip to the waterfall and stick to the plan.

They had hiked some time deep into the stark beauty of the canyon when they came to an unmarked fork in the trail. They chose the most practical route leading in the direction that they were headed. It wasn't long before the trail disappeared, and they realized they had become lost in the hot desert. Discouragement started overtaking my friend because they had limited water, time, and energy. She began to pray that God would help her with her anxiety and attitude as they headed back the way they came.

They were relieved when they spotted some other hikers and called out to them. Their anxiety eased as they approached the other hikers and realized they were back on the trail. They were eager to get back on track when the other hikers asked if they had seen the beautiful waterfall right around the corner. Their group smiled as they realized that was the original waterfall they had decided they didn't have enough time to visit. They went to see the waterfall and were refreshed, which ended up being one of the highlights of their adventure. The unplanned detour led their group to an unexpected blessing.

Isn't that the way our lives are? We make our plans and determine the most efficient route from where we are to where we want to be. Sometimes when we look at the valleys and mountains ahead of us, it seems like a significant feat to even reach our destination. We work out all the details, and as long as everything goes as planned; we can get to the journey's end on schedule. Sure, we plan to enjoy the hike as we go along, just as long as we stay on track.

But then..... a circumstance or detour comes into our chosen path: a late-night phone call, our car breaks down, or we receive an unexpected bill in the mail. Some of the events interrupting our plans are mere inconveniences that change our course slightly. Other disruptions abruptly cause us to be overcome with anxiety.

During those times, I must be honest; my first thought isn't generally about adventure. My first thought is typically about safety, comfort, and predictability. I want to stick to the plan and avoid detours because sudden changes can feel erratic and dangerous, especially when we've been through a past traumatic event or heart-ache.

That way of thinking has reinforced the chains of fear that wrap around my heart. Fear is a thief and a liar. Fear screams out that we have to control and plan for everything. It causes me to grip my plans, hopes, and dreams in my tight fists, refusing to give them to God.

Why does my friend trek the Grand Canyon rim to rim in one day or scale the beautiful Half Dome in Yosemite? Is it because it is predictable and safe? No, there is always an element of uncertainty, pain, and detours. But there is also life and color.

Does this mean everyone should hike the Grand Canyon or schedule a sky-diving excursion? Maybe - but not necessarily, it is about our attitude. A safe life is an illusion, anyway. We are never really safe in this world. It is about pushing through the temptation to seek out safety and comfort. To have the courage to move past the fear and anxiety of the what-if's or possible failure.

It might be as simple as risking rejection and reaching out to the neighbor across the street, volunteering in an unfamiliar area, or moving out from a comfortable place.

Whatever it is, we need to be like my friend. The adventure for her wasn't the Grand Canyon; it was her attitude of pushing past the disappointment, fear, and anxiety of getting off her planned route. It was then that she was able to experience the beauty of an unexpected waterfall.

Living a life of adventure is not at all about the inwardly focused, self-indulgent life. A life centered on what I want or what feels good to me is also an empty life, void of color. Adventure is about living every day fully in grateful expectation of what the Lord has planned for me and through me for His glory.

My choice....Ordeal or Adventure.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps

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