On January 13, 1914, the following announcement appeared in a London newspaper:
“MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS. – SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON”
Over 5,000 men and women responded to that ad in which Shackleton sought recruits for his 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition!
You might wonder, why are people drawn to an adventure like that? What even constitutes an adventure?
I think G. K. Chesterton nailed it when he wrote, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly understood. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly understood.” According to that definition, whether we view challenging circumstances as an adventure or an inconvenience is solely up to us.
By its very nature, an adventure stretches us and challenges us beyond what’s normal, otherwise it would be no adventure at all. And precisely because an adventure stretches us, we’re never the same afterward. Those who know this about adventures, not only savor the experience but also the change that the adventure will bring about in them. But those who see only inconvenience, whine and complain and only long for the inconvenience to finally be behind them.
Last summer I challenged my then 16-year-old grandson Jack to an adventure: to climb Scotchman Peak with me. It’s a steep four-mile climb up gaining 3700 feet of elevation. I was delighted to be able to talk Jack into it without too much pestering. It’s one of my favorite hikes and I assured him he’d enjoy it.
But about a third of the way up the mountain, Jack stopped for a break with sweat dripping down his face. He was bent over with his hands on his sides trying to catch his breath. After a few minutes, he said, “Grandpa, I think this hike is going to be a one-time thing for me.” I encouraged him that the view on top was well worth the climb and that I knew he could make it.
When we reached the summit, we were greeted by a scruffy-looking mountain goat! What a treat! It was a cool, crystal-clear day and the views were stunning with Lake Pend Oreille to the southwest and mountain tops all around.
We stayed on the summit long enough to eat a tasty snack. After taking in all these stimulating sensory delights and enjoying a sense of accomplishment, Jack turned to me and said, “Grandpa, I’ve changed my mind. We’ve GOT to do this hike again!” We were only halfway through our adventure and already Jack was changed.
Some adventures, like mine with Jack, we consciously choose to embark on, while other adventures are imposed on us. Israel’s forty-year trek through the wilderness was an adventure they initially agreed to without really knowing what it would entail. From all their grumbling and complaining, they viewed their experience as more of a huge inconvenience than an adventure.
Yet, at the end of those forty years, Moses reminded them, “The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.” (Deuteronomy 2:7)
God’s people witnessed His mighty works, His protection and provision first-hand. Their adventure was truly monumental! They now knew God in ways they had never known Him before. Their adventure taught them He is faithful and loving. But they only gained this experience because they stepped into the adventure.
This current COVID-19 situation was imposed on us. But we have the choice whether to see it as a gross inconvenience or as an adventure. Those who are inclined to see it as an inconvenience long for everything to return to “normal.” Those who view it as an adventure, not only savor the experience now but look forward to the change this adventure will bring about in them.
How about you, are you ready for an adventure? I am! “Lord, we commit ourselves into Your loving care! Please help us to glean everything from this experience you have for us by approaching it as an adventure in faith.”
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT)
Russ Yoder says
This is one of your best, Rob. Really resonates with me. My brother, Tim has been on the edge of death for the past 3 weeks with COVID-19. He’s still in ICU, but docs are now talking recovery. Tim & I have been reconciled for decades, but you planted the seed in Berlin 46 years ago. God is using this illness in a mighty way. I highly encourage you (and your readers, if they have interest) to catch this adventure in the nightly narrative I post on FB.