Faith: A Big Adventure
One doesn’t have to be a skateboard champion or climb Mount Everest to have an adventurous life—one doesn’t have to risk life and limb to know what Theodore Roosevelt referred to as the great enthusiasms, the great devotions.
Life is to be lived—we are to rise to the challenges, accepting them as an entirely natural unpacking of the word normal. We are not to squirm away from adversity or whine when the course of events do not unfold according to our plans or expectations.
To live is be a risk-taker. We seldom perceive it as thus, but every day comes with its chances—to get out of bed in the morning means being prepared for the highs, lows, and all the in-betweens.
The dips and dives are counterweights to the joys and triumphs—in life no one gets to pick and choose what gets put on their plate. No one chooses defeat or failure; no one chooses pain—those things come as a result of a poor decision, sickness, disease, accident, or for no reason or rhyme that can be figured or categorized.
Life is a smorgasbord that loads us up with good and bad stuff. The only question that matters is, what attitude and approach do we bring to life?
Of all the variables at play, our mindset and perspective are the only things over which we have any control. For Christians, to be in tune with God and responsive to the Holy Spirit is where the great enthusiasms begin. The Holy Spirit guides us, and then our obedience empowers us to go where we’re led—every Christ-follower should be immersed in the great devotions.
Consider an episode in Phillip’s life as a fine example for us to emulate.
Acts 8:26-40 - The Message
Later God's angel spoke to Philip: "At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza." He got up and went. He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. The eunuch had been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was returning to Ethiopia, where he was minister in charge of all the finances of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit told Philip, "Climb into the chariot." Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, "Do you understand what you're reading?"
He answered, "How can I without some
help?" and invited Philip into the chariot with him. The passage he was
reading was this:
As a sheep led to slaughter,
and quiet as a lamb being sheared,
He was silent, saying nothing.
He was mocked and put down, never got a fair trial.
But who now can count his kin
since he's been taken from the earth?
The eunuch said, "Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?" Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him.
As they continued down the road, they came to a stream of water. The eunuch said, "Here's water. Why can't I be baptized?" He ordered the chariot to stop. They both went down to the water, and Philip baptized him on the spot. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip off, and that was the last the eunuch saw of him. But he didn't mind. He had what he'd come for and went on down the road as happy as he could be.
Philip showed up in Azotus and continued north, preaching the Message in all the villages along that route until he arrived at Caesarea.
- Faith: To Be Ready
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Open & Available
Here’s a reality from which we often shrink: When we are attuned to the Holy Spirit we are open, ready, and available to be used by God.
An angel gave Philip clear orders to get up and go to the road that went from Jerusalem to Gaza. Note that Philip didn’t ask why or what he was to do when he got there, which is kind of different from our customary response.
We tend to want all our questions answered before we ever take a step of faith—we’d like all the issues to be addressed, thank you very much. We mostly seem unwilling to leave any whats, hows or whys in God’s hands.
However, dynamic Christian living is based on the application of eternal principles. Philip knew the stirring secret of obedience—he got up and went. He leaned into God’s call and didn’t put it off.
That same possibility exists for each of us when we are intentionally aligned with God, which sounds just dandy and spiritual, but our lives are not neatly divided into safe nooks and crannies. We plug away in the muck and mire of a fallen world populated by broken, wounded, striving, and flawed people just like us.
The oft-time misguided inclination is to attempt to separate our lives into sacred and secular compartments—we endeavor to relegate or regulate God to only specific areas. That effort is a sad delusion that breaks down by putting a miniscule amount of brain power to work.
Being a Christian is not about following traditions and hitting marks set by others. Rather, it is a fluid relationship with a Supernatural Being who desires to be a part of our lives. God does not want to be disregarded or put on hold for all the everyday decisions. Our faith—our relationship with God—must permeate all arenas of our lives. To seek first the kingdom of God means implementing our faith every day in every way.
There’s no invisible dividing line between the sacred and secular. If Christ is alive and well in our hearts—if our eternal God is everpresent—then explain how we can possibly make this mental gymnastic leap to compartmentalize our lives.
Does Christ living in us close his eyes and plug his ears when we are not engrossed in “Christian” activities? Does our everpresent God ignore us when we go through the routine and mundane aspects of the daily grind? Does our all-knowing Heavenly Father pay no attention to us unless we’re gathered together in a sacred assembly?
Or is God always watching, guiding, guarding—is God concerned about every detail of our lives?
When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word What glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. ~John H. Sammis~
Trust & Obey
God is thoroughly familiar with all our ways—God guides his people. We are designed to live in connection with our Heavenly Father—he desires to communicate and get through to us by inspiring thoughts, directions, intuition, and insights from his Word.
Philip was given just enough guidance to change his plans and go in a new direction. What trust and flexibility. God directs us both into and in the situations he has prepared for us. Philip obeyed. He believed that the Lord knew what he was doing and could leave the results to him.
If only we would exercise that kind of faith and obedience, trusting God to be God—what adventures we’d experience if we emphatically put into practice the great songs we know by rote, and sing loud and proud. We worship with arms raised and bodies swaying. The words leap off our tongues with joy but then all too frequently a disconnect takes place. Fact is, Christians don’t ordinarily tell lies, but we do sing them.
The message we often send to God is quite different from the Sunday morning catchphrases. We sing about surrender and claim God’s supremacy in our lives, but then, by active choice or default disobedience we say, do not lead us where we do not want to go—don’t shake us out of our comfortable complacency.
In our earthbound perspective we examine everything from a purely human-centric viewpoint, leaving no room for the supernatural. We want all our whats, hows, and whys answered before we venture out in faith.
Despite our stiff-necked ways God is with us for the long haul. He beckons us with grace—we are to be engaged in continual growth so that more and more we trust God with each miniscule detail.
Note in the text from Acts that timing is everything. Philip was told to get up and go to a specific place and it is obvious that his compliance was important to the Lord’s timing. God wanted Philip on that specific road at a specific time.
Philip walked that desert road. He trusted and obeyed God. Think of the times we may have missed God’s timing because we kept waiting for the Big Picture to unfold completely before we’d acquiesce to his promptings.
Philip didn’t wait. Also note that the end result of Philip’s assent was that God transformed a human being—ultimately that’s what every believer in Jesus Christ is supposed to be eagerly involved in.
When we boil the Great Commandment and Great Commission down to bumper-sticker sound-bites it’s transparently uncomplicated: God asks us to love him with everything we’ve got, love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and share the good news with everyone. However, the living it is complex and radically difficult—it’s impossible to love God with everything we’ve got if we are not yielding to his leadings.
The Ethiopian had risen to a position of influence serving the queen of Ethiopia. Even so, all the outward manifestations of success did not satisfy the longings of his inner being for truth and significance in life.
Philip was at God’s beck and call, grounded in the Scriptures, and knew the overwhelming hope expressed by the prophet Isaiah. Better than that, Philip was aware of the rest of the story—Philip knew the fulfillment and completion of that hope in Jesus Christ. Philip had experienced the good news that the Ethiopian was hungering to hear.
Be encouraged that God had the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts figured out perfectly. When the Ethiopian was ready to make a commitment, in the middle of the desert there was water for baptism. Philip baptized the Ethiopian and he went on his way rejoicing in his new life.
Bold & Courageous
Why be adventurous? Simply because God calls us out of darkness and into light—God promises that he will never leave or forsake us, and he requires inch by inch, step by step obedience.
If the Holy Spirit is within, he’s prompting us to be bold and courageous.
Let us seize hold of the great enthusiasms, the great devotions—let us honor the One who invites us to participate in his redemption story.
God is in the business of changing sinners into sinners saved by GRACE. That’s an exciting adventure worthy of the best we have to offer.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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