Adventures in Faith: Hiking

adventures in faithSo be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you, and follow the commands exactly. Live the way the Lord your God has commanded you so that you may live and have what is good and have a long life in the land you will take. (Deuteronomy 5:32-33)

Ponder It.

What is the most challenging hike you’ve accomplished?

When have you had a downhill experience, physically or spiritually?

How does the security of your footing change when you are confident with God’s commands and uncertain about what you’re doing and where you’re going?

Receive It.

When you hike in the hills or mountains, you’ll get a fresh perspective with every twist and turn. The goal is to get to the summit, where you’ll have unobstructed views, being able to see for miles with fresh air swirling around you. Even though your muscles and lungs burn along the path, you accomplish something with each and every step. You stop for a break, sip water, refuel with a power bar, and continue to ascend. Every step takes you a little closer. You watch your step. Your excitement and anticipation grows. With every challenge, you grow. You develop. Then you reach the top and savor the moment. You breathe and take it all in. You soak in the sights…and the accomplishment.

But you can’t stay on the top forever. You have to get back to where you live. It’s time to move back down the mountain. It seems easier. After all, going down definitely seems to involve less resistance. Shouldn’t it be almost like coasting? The truth is, many more accidents happen on the way down the mountain than on the way up. We don’t pay attention. We’re not as careful. We’re tired, and the climb down is anticlimactic. There’s really not a lot to look forward to it—except survival, a bath, and a good meal. But if we don’t pay attention to where our feet go, we’ll step on loose rock, we won’t have our feet firmly under us, we’ll slip. And falls on the way down can be disastrous because they’re more difficult to stop. Momentum carries us. We can slip into others. We twist an angle or stress a knee. Tired muscles ache and cramp. But we can’t quit. God will guide and give us everything we need, but we can’t get lazy. Focus. Be intentional with each and every step.

Live It.

Take a hike. It doesn’t have to be extremely challenging or time-consuming. Let God guide. Be careful with your steps but also bold as you proceed. When you move forward in God’s will, you can be secure even with the uncertainty involved. You won’t always be safe, but you can step into God’s confidence. He will show you sights and sounds you wouldn’t have experienced without Him.

Adventures in Faith: Snorkeling

adventures in faithI will give you the wealth that is stored away and the hidden riches so you will know I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name. (Isaiah 45:3)

Ponder It.

When have you been surprised by something you found?

When have you been surprised by a particularly stunning sight or experience?

What do you consider “beauty on the inside” includes?

Receive It.

Have you ever snorkeled, getting to see the hidden beauty below the surface of the water? We miss out on a lot that goes on under the water, because we’re not made to stay under water long. It’s not just about water. Think about all the places you can’t easily reach or can’t reach at all where there are certainly some amazing sights and sounds. Consider the crevices of rock cliffs, the caves of mountains, the depths of snow and earth, and so on. The list could go on and on, because there are many things we can’t see. Even if we use telescopes, microscopes, and other man-made devices, we’re not seeing the details in their natural habitat with unhindered, unfiltered eyesight. There are a lot of mysteries of the world, and we’ll never solve or learn them all.

But all that hidden beauty isn’t really hidden; it’s just hidden from us. God sees and knows it all. He knew the details of each of us before we were born. Think of the details of your body that you don’t know. Even the best of the world’s doctors can’t know every detail, let alone understand how it all works together and is constantly growing and changing. Only God. He’s the one who created you, and He’s the one who knows you. Nothing is hidden to Him. He is sovereign. He is always present, always knowing, always seeing. Nothing gets past God. And you can trust Him. You will never be hidden from Him. Not a single detail.

Live It.

How can you claim the following for your life today and live its truth out loud?

You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. God, your thoughts are precious to me. They are so many! If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand. When I wake up, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:13-18)

Adventures in Faith: Yes, Coach

adventures in faithWe do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way. You have become weak, so make yourselves strong again. Keep on the right path, so the weak will not stumble but rather be strengthened. (Hebrews 12:11-13)

Ponder It.

When have you experienced a good coach? Why do you believe He or she was a good coach?

What do you think qualifies a coach to be a poor, ineffective coach?

Whose life are you currently investing in, and who are you allowing to invest in you?

Receive It.

There’s not much use to have a coach you don’t believe in or listen to. The point of having a coach is giving someone else authority in your training. You want someone who knows more than you do in terms of training and preparation. You don’t want to have to manage all the details; instead, when you have someone who sees and understands the big picture, you can submit to authority, follow instructions, and get results. You won’t always get every single result you expect or want; after all, there are always going to be a few factors that are out of your control…and out of the control of even your coach. But a good coach will certainly lead, even launch, you toward your goals. Not every coach is the best choice for each trainee. In order to get the right fit, we have to know our goals. We have to know our reasons for training and choose the best coach we can. We need a coach who knows more than we know—someone who seems to know us even better than we do.

Of course, God is the best coach. In fact, when it comes to our faith and spiritual growth, He’s really the only one we should consider for the role. He will bring others into our lives who will encourage us along the journey, but He is there from beginning to end. He’s there for the early mornings and late nights and everything in between. He’s there for the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. He knows when we’re hurting, when we need a break, when we need a gentle (or not so gentle) nudge. He knows it all. So…why do we try to coach ourselves, thinking we know ourselves best so we’ll do the best job? Humble yourself. Let Him coach. Ask Him. Follow Him. With each response, give Him an enthusiastic, resolute, “Yes, God.” Even when you don’t see or understand the results or the path you’re taking, He will never, ever lead you wrong.

Live It.

Invest in someone’s life today. Contact someone you have been encouraging and take the next step. Watch for someone you don’t have much of a relationship with yet but plant the seeds of encouragement with a smile and brief word. Appreciate when others encourage you—with a word, kind deed, or smile. Write a note to someone who has encouraged you in the past. And thank God for all the coaching He’s given you—the encouragement and the challenges.

Adventures in Faith: Paragliding

adventures in faithBut the people who trust the Lord will become strong again. They will rise up as an eagle in the sky; they will run and not need rest; they will walk and not become tired. (Isaiah 40:31)

Ponder It.

When you been encouraged by a new perspective?

When has a new perspective challenged you in a way you preferred to ignore?

When has your limited or exposed vision helped you spiritually grow?

 

Receive It.

Paragliding is a recreational (and competitive) adventure sport of flying through the air in a lightweight, (usually) non-motorized aircraft the person launches by running or jumping off a high edge. It’s soaring through the air, high above the ground below. It invites a perspective that cannot be seen from the ground. It often can’t be experience by other aircraft, because airplanes can’t get in the same spaces or go slowly enough to take in the details, and helicopters drown out the beautiful sounds of soaring. You might not want to paraglide or even have the opportunity, but you can still have a renewed perspective.

 

God wants to refresh your perspective and give you a glimpse of what He sees. Of course, you won’t have His full perspective. You couldn’t handle it or understand it. But God invites us to see a bit of what He sees, a little at a time. He calls a person in need to your attention. He lets you view an amazing sunset at just the right time along your drive. He helps you connect the dots between two events that otherwise would have seemed disconnected. You can’t have full understanding, but God still wants to give you understanding. As we yield to Him, He gives us just the understanding we need. We need to be willing to move in order to get a different perspective. Consider the difference between standing on the seashore and climbing the lighthouse to look out upon the same water. Consider how your perspective changes with each twist and turn up (or down) a mountainside. Your perspective changes depending on where you sit at church, the seat you choose in a car, the side of the prison bars you’re on or the side of the desk in an office, and so much more. We can stay where we are or move to where God wants us to be. But it is only when we are where God wants us that we will see what He wants us to see. Soar to new perspectives today.

 

Live It.

Climb to a new height today. It doesn’t need to be far. Perhaps you’ll simply climb a flight of stairs or look out a higher story window. Perhaps you’ll walk to the top of a hill or stand at the top of playground equipment. As you climb, notice the change in what you can see. You might think it doesn’t make much of a difference with what you can see today, but when you begin to consider the possibilities of glimpsing God’s perspective, find encouragement…and continue to let Him change and challenge your perspective.

Adventures in Faith: HeliSkiing

adventures in faithThen Jesus said to His followers, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Ponder It.

Would you prefer to blaze your own trail or follow somebody who knows what they’re doing and where they’re going?

When have you discovered something new while exploring or learning?

When have you followed instructions and steps that you considered ignoring?

Receive It.

Imagine riding in a helicopter to the top of a mountaintop that can’t be reached any other way, at least, in winter weather. You strap on your skis, and the helicopter hovers just high enough and long enough for you to jump and immediately soar down the fresh, untouched snow. It’s as if you’re going where no one has gone before.

There’s something about exploring, inventing, and entrepreneurship. It all involves an exciting a-ha. Newness is admired. Finding uniqueness is…well, unique. One-of-a-kind stands out. It stands alone. We want to go above and beyond, farther, faster. The bigger, the better, whether it’s a product, process, or idea. Yet…All things continue the way they have been since the beginning. What has happened will happen again; there is nothing new here on earth (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Not only can we not do something that’s completely new but we shouldn’t try to blaze our own trail. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be as creative and explorative as we can be, because God is the Creator. He is creative, and we’re created in His image. He wants us to be inquisitive; it’s one of the qualities that drives us toward Him. We seek Him. But we don’t lead God. We don’t blaze a trail where He’s never gone.

Instead of focusing on going where no one has gone before, we need to focus on going where God is leading us. We need to seek the footprints of God and follow them. Our feet fit well on the path of purpose He’s prepared for us. We’d sometimes rather go our own way, but there is a cost. Of course, there is also a cost to following Him. Following assumes a responsibility. When we go where God is leading us, we’ll make the best discoveries we can make. We’ll get to know God better. We’ll know who He created us to be. And we’ll go where He wants us to go, when He wants us to go, discovering every step of the way. Going where no one has gone before doesn’t really apply when we consider and realize God’s sovereignty.

Live It.

Walk a well-established path today. Then step off the beaten path. As you do, realize and acknowledge that God knows just where you are. Better yet, He knows where you’re going. Trust Him each step of the way.

Adventures in Faith: Sandboarding

adventures in faithThe Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God and has given Him the skill, ability, and knowledge to do all kinds of work. He is able to design pieces to be made of gold, silver, and bronze, to cut stones and jewels and put them in metal, to carve wood, and to do all kinds of work. (Exodus 35:31-33)

Ponder It.

What was the most recent new thing you saw on an infomercial, in the store, or in real life?

When have you used your creativity?

What two sports or two items would you like to combine for usefulness of adventure? (You might just have the idea for the next great invention!)

Receive It.

Have you ever heard of sandboarding? It’s similar to snowboarding, using a board, but on sand dunes instead snow-covered mountains. It’s not in high profile competitions…yet…but it’s certainly adventurous! Just imagine the first time someone went sandboarding. Maybe He or she had a surfboard or a skateboard without wheels and decided to take the fast way down the dunes toward the water. Perhaps someone else watched the adventure unfold and realized the board choice wasn’t quite right, went home and created a board more suited for it, and…wa-la! Sandboarding was born. I really don’t know how it happened, but it makes me think of the many things that are created just by combining a couple sports or ideas or making slight adjustments.

We can often get stuck in ruts, thinking we have to do something the same way or the way it’s always been done. There’s certainly something to be said about tradition and learning from other people’s mistakes, but there are definitely plenty of mistakes for us to continue to make and learn from, and one of those mistakes might be failing to try something new. The more we can problem-solve and dream, the more we can live in and with God’s creativity and begin to imagine how big He truly is. He doesn’t confine us to the way things have always been. He invites us to know Him better, grow beyond what we’ve previously known and understood, and let Him reveal some fresh ideas. He wants us to explore and enjoy the world around us. I don’t know if He’s excited about sandboarding, but I’m pretty certain He’s glad people are using the creativity He has given them. Now, if we can just live our faith with creativity so that we enjoy the adventures and lead the way for others who are missing out on the adventurous life of faith. Faith really isn’t stale and boring, so don’t live as if it is.

Live It.

Use something in a creative way today. Create a new tool by adjusting one or more items. Or imagine what you would do to adjust if you didn’t have the specific utensil, tool, or equipment you usually use. How would you problem-solve? We get so used to being able to buy everything we need, but even if an item already exists, consider how you can adjust and make something similar out of what you already have. Celebrate the creativity God gave you.

Adventures in Faith: Against the Clock

adventures in faithThere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Ponder It.

What always seems to take a long time for you—either to get something done or to wait for something?

When does time seem to fly by for you?

If you could change one thing about time, what would it be, and why?

Receive It.

Many games and sports are measured against the clock. Sometimes, we make up games on our own, challenging ourselves to get somewhere by a certain time, beat our “best” time getting ready, rushing through something to get it done with as little pain and inconvenience as possible, and so on. We frequently feel as if we’re running against the clock. Some things take a shorter time, and some take a longer time. And sometimes it’s just the perspective of time, when something we dread feels like it takes longer or something we enjoy feels like it takes shorter time. Perspective matters when time is involved.

God is beyond time. He always has been and always will be. He created us to live for a designated time on earth, confined by His time. Just because He knows the time we’ll live here on earth, we don’t. There’s a lot we don’t know about time. Yet we’re confined by it. And we often feel controlled by it—but we’re not. Time invites us to trust God. Time invites us to yield to God, to offer ourselves and every detail of our lives to Him. Time isn’t ours to control. It’s a gift to open, enjoy, and appreciate. Just as athletes don’t waste time as the clock is running, we can’t either. Our clocks are running. Every single second that goes by is one less moment we get to live on earth—one less opportunity we have to grow toward God, to honor Him with our lives. We can’t capture time, but we can certainly waste it. Or not.

Live It.

Set your watch or phone alarm to go off several times throughout the day. When the alarm sounds, take a moment and consider what you’re currently doing. Are you relying on God, trusting Him to guide every step you’re taking? Are you using the time He’s giving you well, or are you letting distractions cause you to lose time you can never get back? Commit to the giving God every second of every minute of every hour of every day.