I was a lot younger than I am now, perhaps twenty years younger, enjoying a lift in the back of a pick-up truck. Where I was going I can’t remember, but I do remember a large yellow container rattling around next to me. Apart from that, the sun was shining, warm and bright. I hadn’t a care in the world – but I should have. Suddenly, without warning, the pick-up hit the breaks and the large yellow container tippled over. A thick liquid drooled out, and spread across the back of the truck, trickling off quickly in different directions. I reached down and picked the container up. What I didn’t know is that it was filled with sulfuric acid. I caught a large whiff, and my lungs nearly imploded. Breathing soon became impossible – I may as well have inhaled live flames. Without giving it a second thought, I banged loudly on the rear window of the driver’s cab. The truck pulled off the road. Like a cat leaping off a hot tin roof, I shot out and stumbled about on the pavement, trying to regain my breath. Not nice.
Fast-forward a number of years, perhaps twenty or so… A few months ago, I was sitting in the back garden of a friend in London. The sun was shining, warm and bright. No yellow drums in sight, only a small potted fig tree. All was safe – perhaps too safe. I was savouring a cool ginger bear, and thinking through my marriage. Did I say that? My word! Married with kids? What on earth had happened? My mind wandered off to the days before kids. There was more time then, loads more time. I well remembered finishing off at work on a Friday afternoon to meet my wife at Victoria station, small luggage bag trundling behind. We’d shoot off to Germany for the weekend and visit my brother, or perhaps Barcelona…or Italy. Hmm, had more money then too. With kids, life works better when solid routine is in place, at least it does for us. The children prefer it when things are predictable – they feel more secure. But our marriage? Perhaps that had become somewhat dry, a little too colourless. And my relationship with God? More than likely the same.
Then I remembered a talk by John Eldridge on the importance of adventure. Towering mountains, thundering waterfalls, crashing waves…our heavenly Dad’s creation is a giant invitation to explore. But, it’s dangerous. I realised then that my life had become somewhat cocooned. Business is safe, so is routine. Our fears stay put, buried deep down. Control is so subtle, but it’s corrosive to the growth of our spirit. It offers a warm, safe sanctuary of all that is predictable – we can hold on tight and play our cards safe. But, it also bleaches us right down to the core. We become stripped of risk and the need to trust God and others. Our souls cannot breathe in the life that Jesus has to offer. My family, my marriage, my life needs adventure. Risk is vital.
I sometimes shudder at the life of Paul. How could any human endure what he was exposed to? Yes, his account may seem terrifying to us – shipwrecked, imprisoned, flogged. What financial services company would have ensured that? But, he had Life. He was a son of the Creator, and he knew it. His soul was thick with the inner heart knowledge of Jesus. We are all going to face pain, let’s ensure that it’s the pain that God blesses and grows us through. Perhaps it’s time to let go a little…
Mike – Team Member