Janie Cheaney: The call to adventure

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, January 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Commentator Janie B. Cheaney wants you to get a little uncomfortable in this new year.

JANIE CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Have you heard this story? The hero is toiling in the mundane fields or shops of everyday life when the summons occurs—a special calling or challenge. Gandalf appears in the Shire; Lucy walks through the back of the wardrobe; the burdened Pilgrim flees his doomed city.

The adventure begins.

The quest model is built into human DNA. All our lives we’re leaving home on a journey into the unknown and returning somehow changed: a new job, a new relationship, a birth, a death. Could we call it an adventure?

Several weeks ago I watched an online discussion between professor Jordan Peterson and commentator Ben Shapiro. In their two-hour give and take about duty, responsibility, and meaning, Shapiro made this observation: “The only thing America guarantees is an adventure.”

He compared it to the call of Abraham: “Leave your home and family and go to a place I will show you.” God does the showing; Abraham the leaving, casting himself into an unknown future.

That was also the call to Moses from a burning bush and to Elisha while he plowed his fields. And it’s the call of Jesus: “Come, follow me.”

The men who left their nets and fields and counting tables clearly understood they were off on an adventure. It didn’t go the way they expected, but turned out to be more than they could imagine: more danger, more difficulty, more challenge.

That’s the side of adventure we miss from the couch: it’s dangerous, difficult, challenging, and even, for long stretches at a time, boring. It takes us away from our everyday comforts and distractions. It may end in failure. But it still calls us.

At the turn of the year, our thoughts turn to “resolutions” rather than adventures. Resolutions are an attempt to get control over our hectic lives—to encourage self-discipline and responsibility.

That’s all to the good. As Peter says, “Therefore be sober-minded and self-controlled, for the sake of your prayers.” But what else is discipline for?

Adventure calls us every day, even in the well-worn tracks of the routine and monotonous: “Come, follow me.” Jesus says, “Don’t shore up your life against disruption; don’t automatically say No. Don’t be a slave to well-meant resolutions.

Make yourself a little uncomfortable today: take some cookies to your grouchy neighbor or stop to talk to that panhandler on Walnut Street. Before collapsing in your recliner to click on Netflix, do something for Him—text an apology or invitation; write a note of encouragement; pray.

“Open the door to possibility”, Jesus says. “In your successes I am making something through you; in your failures and disappointments I am making you.”

Like America, God guarantees an adventure—and more. His Kingdom begins with a call into the unknown, with only his promises to guide us, and ends with a sure inheritance. You’ll never outgrow it, and it will grow you.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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