Adventure seekers … are you one of those? Anyone sky dive? Bungee jump? How about hang gliding? Mountain bikers? Surfers? I only tried surfing before I went to seminary back East just so I could have some street cred as a Southern Californian.
Most of my adventures have been of a different sort and have begun when things take an unexpected turn. You probably know what I’m talking about. You have a plan for your life, something goes awry, and now you have an adventure on your hands.
When Julie and I packed up everything we owned in a U-Haul trailer and set off for seminary across the desert, my plan was to travel at night to beat the heat. So at 11:30 that first night on the road, the engine just died … So many thoughts went through my mind. Suffice to say, that’s when the adventure began.
When Jesus sent our 70 of his followers to share his message of that the kingdom of God was near, these were his instructions: Don’t bring a purse or wallet, in fact, don’t bring any spare gear, not even a second pair of shoes. Depend upon the hospitality of strangers. Eat whatever is set in front you. Heal the sick. And if you’re rejected anywhere, leave peacefully, reminding everyone you encounter that God is close by. (see Luke 10:1-11)
This would be a tough way to travel. You wouldn’t have any of the things you rely on if you run into problems out on the road.
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The scout motto is “be prepared” and Jesus seems to be saying, “don’t over-prepare.” Maybe Jesus is suggesting that too often in life we play it safe and only accomplish what we know we can do without upsetting our life plans. I know I have too often made security and safety priorities. I plan so I succeed; so I don’t look foolish; so I don’t fail.
Planning is a good thing, yes, but there are things that happen in life that we cannot plan for. Think about how much the world has changed in just this century, or how much our valley has changed in that time. Did any of us anticipate or prepare for those changes?
Just the natural disasters – an earthquake and several fires – have changed the complexion of our valley, to say nothing of the cultural issues we’ve had to confront.
Isn’t that when the adventure begins? When the path we’ve been taking takes an unexpected turn. When the way we’ve always done things becomes a dead end? Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.” I long for a life of meaning and significance, but I know that won’t be found without risk and being flexible. So in my life, I’ll have to opt into the adventure that Christ offers me, to travel light, to bring healing and to remind folks that no matter the circumstances, God is near.
Jonathan Eastman is the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Saint Helena, 1428 Spring St. Sunday services include theological seminar at 9 a.m. and worship at 10 a.m. For details call 707-963-1255 or firstpressthelena.org.