One summer when I was in college, I left the normalcy of my job and friends for a summer-long missions trip to the Ganado Native American Reservation in Arizona. During the day we worked with a local church and with kids from the area. Our primary task…to share Jesus while we led a summer baseball camp and league. At night, we explored the wonders of the American Southwest.
There’s not a lot to do in Ganado, but the scenery and terrain are breathtaking. Most nights we would set out to discover new sights and sounds and would routinely end up hiking through a familiar area.
One of my teammates and I came across a rock formation that rose about 40 feet in the air that was begging to be climbed. It jutted out of the ground like God himself had sunk a dagger into the earth. We didn’t have any ropes or gear, just our tennis shoes, bare hands, and a challenge that was waiting to be conquered.
It was so much fun…and a little scary. If we fell, there were jagged rocks at the bottom that were capable of splitting our skulls, but that didn’t seem near as pressing as climbing that rock. At the time, I wasn’t unused to climbing, but most of my experience was found in climbing gyms and on ropes. I knew what to do, but I had no safety devices to keep me from getting hurt.
Outside of the ministry we did with friends, those nights are some of my favorite memories ever. We were on an adventure and, at times, we could have been hurt, seriously hurt.
As I’ve aged, I have learn to see the world in much the way I saw that rock.
It’s a challenge waiting to be met.
We may get hurt…but the adventure is worth that possibility.
In our faith, we were never meant to play it safe. Never meant to stay in our comfortable church seats, listening/singing to music we liked and sermons that told us what we already believed.
No, instead, we were meant to take risks, meet challenges, and love the adventure of it all.
Jesus called his disciples to an adventure. Leave your nets, follow me, and become fishers of men. It was always a team event and if I am honest, I may not have tackled that rock without my friends nearby.
I knew that someone else was taking the dare to climb with me.
I knew that if I fell, I would get hurt, but my friends were there to help me if I did.
I knew that once I got to the top, all of these risks would be worth it.
And, I knew, that I was making the climb with a friend that could share the experience with me.
This is the model of ministry in the church.
We are not meant to do it alone. Jesus didn’t train his disciples to do it alone, neither should we.
There is a chance we will be harmed. We may lose relationships, we may have to sacrifice our comfort zones, others may not see as the same way. And in some parts of the world, you may, very literally, lose your life.
The calling of God is the top of the mountain. It is the invitation to go on an adventure and it is worth the risks.
And, if we fall, the Body of Christ is there to tend to our wounds as a community that gives life to those who are dying.
Do you see your life as an adventure? Are you stuck in the routine patterns of your schedule without any freedom to climb a rock? When is the last time you felt the exhilaration of conquering a challenge with Jesus?
Life is meant to be an adventure with real risks and real rewards. Don’t play it safe, you have the Body of Christ all around you!