Adventures in Faith: Soaring!

adventures in faithToday is the final post in the Adventures in Faith series. Thanks for joining the journey. Let’s continue together with new adventures, beginning tomorrow!

Children, come and listen to me. I will teach you to worship the Lord. You must do these things to enjoy life and have many happy days. (Psalm 34:11-12)

Ponder It.

What’s one adventure that thrilled you?

What’s an adventure that challenged you?

Consider how you grew through each.

Receive It.

When Mom looked out the kitchen window, she saw us in the second-story barn window. My older sisters held me by my legs and arms, and they swung me back and forth several times before tossing me out the window.

What she couldn’t see was my landing. The garage obscured her view. She charged out the door in a panic, rounded the corner of the garage and…saw the hay truck stacked with straw and me rolling in laughter and delight. What a great day! Mom, on the other hand, didn’t share my joy. She was relieved I was okay, but her initial fright gave her enough momentum to yell at all of us and demand we stop the fun.

Bummer! I was having a blast. It might not have been the safest way to pass the time, but many of the “fun” things we did on the farm weren’t necessarily safe. Some of the most memorable experiences are the adventurous ones. We’re creative through adventures. We learn through adventures. And we often struggle through adventures. Struggling often produces growth.

Adventures often involve risks and usually involve excitement. Approach today with an anticipation of adventure. Learn. Struggle. Be creative. Make some memories.

Live It.

This is it: the launching pad of the next season of your adventures. Your adventures didn’t just begin, and they’re not going to end anytime soon, especially as you commit and yield to God’s will. He has a journey of adventures for you. Embrace every single one. Soar!

For more stories about life growing up on the family farm, check out Farm Days.

Adventures in Faith: Opportunities for Adventure

adventures in faithShout to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with joy; come before Him with singing. Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends. Come into His city with songs of thanksgiving and into His courtyards with songs of praise. Thank Him and praise His name. The Lord is good. His love is forever, and His loyalty goes on and on. (Psalm 100)

Ponder It.

What’s one opportunity you missed and have regretted?

What’s an opportunity you are very grateful you didn’t miss?

What’s an opportunity you would love to experience?

Receive It.

We have a lot of opportunities throughout life and throughout every day. We have the choice not only to take or refuse the opportunity but also to take or give credit for the opportunity. We sometimes feel we’ve “made our way.” We take credit when, in reality, we haven’t gotten where we are on our own. In fact, we don’t achieve in isolation. Even when we think our efforts paved the way to where we are, opened the doors, and made the right choices, we’re surrounded by others. Our lives aren’t lived in isolation. Our paths are paved with relationships. Sometimes, we feel we’ve messed up everything. Taking responsibility is one thing, but thinking we’re powerful enough to mess up everything is the same as thinking we’re powerful enough to achieve anything we want. Whether we think too highly or not highly enough of ourselves, we have pride issues, and just about the time we excuse our pride as necessary confidence, we’ll trip over the stumbling blocks pride puts in the way.

We are never so low that we cannot go higher, and we can never get to a height from which it’s impossible to fall. We have responsibility, but God gets the credit. Obedience is the responsibility; guidance and provision only comes from God. He defines who we are and determines when we’re letting pride slip into our lives. Whether we’re giving ourselves too much credit or not enough credit, our credit is misguided. It’s not about our credit; it’s about God’s glory. So, when you’re faced with an opportunity, give it to God. Let it filter through His fingers and will. Let Him decide how you’re supposed to best respond. When you’re faced with an opportunity, get prayed up and prayed for. Each is indispensable, and neither should be done just when you feel it’s an emergency. God’s presence and will isn’t just the only way when we can’t see another way. It’s the only way when we can see thousands of ways ahead of us. Many ways may look beautiful to us, but only God’s way is undoubtedly, incomparably, the most beautiful ever.

Live It.

Place one of your hands under a faucet and let water run over your palm. Try to hold as water as you can. Turn off the water. As you watch the remainder of the water run down the drain, commit to not wasting a single opportunity God gives you today. Opportunities slip too easily through our hands.

Adventures in Faith: Bench, Floor, or Field?

adventures in faithThere are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve. And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do. Something from the Spirit can be seen in each person, for the common good…Together you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of that body. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7,27)

Ponder It.

When have you felt like you had to sit on the sidelines, and what was your response?

When have you been in the middle of an exciting game, part of a healthy team?

Where would you rather be, on the bench or the floor? Why?

Receive It.

There’s a difference between the players on the bench and those on the floor…but they’re all part of the team, and each and every person plays an important part. At least, God intends for them to play an important part. They can choose not to fulfill that important part by pouting or getting defensive. They can feel they were wronged or that they’re under-appreciated. Just as we can in the body of Christ. God gives spiritual gifts to each person who believes in Him. He didn’t leave anyone out, including you. The problem is usually in discerning what our gifts are and how to use them. We get confused about our gifts and respond to how we think we’re supposed to use them or how we’re insufficiently using them when we’re actually misunderstanding or under-appreciating what we have and what we’re doing.

For example, we sometimes assume our spiritual gifts are something we’re passionate about doing. I’m confident God fans the flame of passion in us, but what if we’re not ultra-excited about something: does that mean we’re not gifted for it? What if that just means we’re being stubborn and not accepting God’s will? If I’m gifted to teach, will I be excited about teaching every moment of my life? I may be gifted in advising others, but will I whole-heartedly want to always listen to people whine and complain? Probably not! We’re human, and we need to not base our gifts and the use of our gifts on our emotions and experiences. Whether we’re on the bench or the floor, we need to give teamwork our all. All of our gifts work together, and each of us is essential to the fully-functioning body of Christ. You’re human. You’re going to doubt yourself. But don’t doubt God. When you question your giftedness, you question God’s ability and wisdom. He knows what He’s doing. No exceptions. God expects you to use your gifts for His glory. Your gifts are yours to use, but you’re not the source. God is. He gave you the gifts. He knows exactly where you fit. Let God settle you into your gifts as He settles His gifts into you.

Live It.

Work together today. Invite someone into your life, and serve. Accept someone else’s invitation for you to serve. Don’t insist on doing it your way. Do it God’s way.

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.