“…You of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:26
I sat in the backseat as Mom drove through the rolling vineyards of California’s Napa Valley. Heading to grandma where she lived in a two-story cedar home. Her landscape was a mixture of shady trees and piles of cluttered treasures that she had collected over the years.
She would collect any and everything. I remember one time my grandmother gave me a case of red socks. I wore red socks through most of my grade school years! Another time we pulled up into the driveway to find six Singer sewing machines sitting out in the front yard. She had boxes piled on boxes with stuff, that she just knew her grandchildren would love. Adults would call it hoarding, the grandkids just called it wonderful. To say the least visiting grandma’s house was a treasure hunt. My brothers and sisters would come back to the car with their arms full of toys and knick knacks, showing me what they had discovered, while I sat alone in the car.
Grandma owned a pointy teeth dog with snarling lips. Despite his chain, he spent his afternoon lungeing against it, I spent the afternoon safe in the car watching him snarl. In the safety of the car I, watched my brothers and sisters enjoy their adventure. My mom and grandma would tap on the window and try to persuade me out, but I wouldn’t budge. I had made the trip but missed the adventure.
Sometimes I still feel like that little girl, thinking to myself, “Cyndi, you’re playing it way too safe, staying comfortable in your surrounding.” There had been times when I made the trip half way around the world but missed the adventure. Staring out at other people’s adventures, cheering them on, “You’re doing a great job rescuing the prostitutes” or “Keep up the good work with the homeless” all from the safety of what was familiar to me. My Heavenly Father taps on my window trying to persuade me out, but I don’t budge. If only I could keep my eyes on the Father, but I have a tendency to look over his shoulder at the ugly dog that keeps barking and fear grips me once more.
There are a variety of reasons that we make a trip, but miss the adventure:
Fear is the biggest deterrent from an adventure. Fear of failure, fear of inadequacy or fear of being overwhelmed. Whatever the fear is, it holds us back from stepping into an adventure. When I first landed in Beijing, I posted a saying onto my fridge,
Short and sweet. I kept this saying on my fridge for the first six years of life in China. Early on I came to the realization that my biggest enemy in serving God was not governments nor ideologies, but rather my own internal fear.
Some of us have not let go of our past ministry assignment. We find ourselves comparing our current life to what we had in the past, “I used to have a better house, better friends, better income…” Maybe you never really wanted to move to your new location, wishing that your husband had stayed at the previous church. You find yourself missing home and overcome with grief. It’s physically impossible to look forward and backward at the same time. If we want to step into a new adventure, then our focus cannot be on our past life. A fellow ministry wife recently shared with me that she was so sad about leaving a church pastorate, it took her three moves and twelve years of discontentment before she realized that she was the only one fueling her own unhappiness. Tackle your discontentment with thanksgiving, putting your focus forward instead of backwards.
Too many Trips
Our attachment to family back home can get in the way of stepping into a ministry adventure. It is tempting to be on a constant search for an airfare deal that takes you back home to family and friends. If you are living aboard, visiting the homeland can become an unhealthy distraction. One of my biggest obstacles in recruiting volunteers, is too many trips. Potential volunteers turning me down because they had a trip on the horizon. They struggled to put down roots because their excitement was always about their next trip. Whether it’s our volunteers or ourselves, don’t let the pull for the homeland keep you from how God wants to use you where He has planted you.
Lack of Burden
Our own lack of burden can keep us from being compelled into a new adventure. Leroy Cloud, my Senior Pastor in Hong Kong once shared a memorable truth with me, “Your ministry will never go beyond your burden.”
This quote has always reminded me that a burden is foundational to any adventure. For most of us, that burden will develop as we get involved with other people’s lives. Burden increases with involvement, likewise burden decreases with lack of involvement. The more you distance yourself from the need, the more your own indifference to the need will increase. Be willing to give your time to the needs that are around you.
The saddest part of missing the adventure at Grandma’s house wasn’t missing the treasures of knick knacks that littered my grandmother’s property. The saddest part was missing out on Grandma. I missed her hugs, warm hands, smiles and her sweet conversations. It’s the same way with God when we choose to make the trip but miss the adventure there are beautiful qualities of God that we don’t experience. Let’s make the trip and remember to take on the adventure that God has for us.