“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. Its adventurously expectant, greeting God with a child-like, ‘What’s next papa?’” Romans 8:15 MSG
Adventure is not what I had in mind when I left my front door to walk down the street and call my boys in for dinner on a random Tuesday night. Adventure has always symbolized for me escaping this normal life stuff, getting out and away to explore some nook or cranny in the grand big world. I was still in my work clothes and hadn’t even ceremonially packed the car with all the gear and food and everything except that one thing. You know the thing—the one you remember 10 miles down the road, when its just too late to turn back. And yet adventure is exactly what happened when I shut my front door with a slam.
What is Adventure?
Last year during our advent reading, one of my boys noticed the connection to the word adventure. He’s not the first to make this connection of course but it fascinated me. Church calendars and camping trips don’t exist in my same brain space I guess. Maybe they should.
So I looked up the root connections of these words. Advent means directly, “coming” or “arrival.” Adventure shares this root but means more literally, “Its about to happen” or “Its about to arrive.” In bro speak, that translates “Its about to go down.” In other words at its core, adventure is a posture of anticipation of an advent, a visitation, a coming. And in this sense adventure actually refers to what’s about to happen right here, right now, not what’s happening in some other place. Its not where you are going, but what is coming to you. Its not what we create as much as what pulls us up into it.
And so all the prepping and the packing don’t make the adventure. The gear is not the adventure nor the place. They only get you in a context to be more open to it. The adventure is the bear you hearing rummaging around at 3 am in your neighbors campsite. Or the waterfall mist that sprays your face as you stand near the roar of its cascade. Or the visitation I had while calling my children home for dinner. More on that in a minute.
What is Advent?
Advent as adventure is about anticipating what came to us and what is still coming to us, not what we escape. Its not a spiritual season of giving up, of leaving, of laying down. Its a season of opening, of waiting, of looking and watching and feeling for the God who might just jump around a corner. Its all that kid energy of not being able to sleep at night because tomorrow is Christmas and what might await us there. Can we be expectant like a child again?
We are inescapably stuck with our lives. Yes, we can change. Life can change. We can grow and move and become so much more. But we always begin from where we are right now. I know this when I attempt to start running or writing or loving in a new way. Wherever you go, there you are. Advent says don’t strive to get somewhere. Just stop where you are in life, in your struggles and be open.
Openness as Adventure
As I walked out the front door to get my kids, in these days when the dark descends before dinner, I prayed, “God, can you just show me you love this neighborhood, that you love me, that you walk around here?” I had been haunted for a number of weeks by a feeling of his absence. I really did not feel God’s coming to earth at all. But somehow my weary heart conjured up a prayer. Sometimes those prayers roll like dice. Who knows but that God might hear?
I found my boys in the dark and announced the words they hate most when playing, “Time to eat.” To their joy, I got lost in a conversation with the other dad for awhile before we finally made our way back down the hill. As we rounded the corner of the last tree, my son a half step ahead yelled, “Woah!” just as a large ominous shape swooped above our heads coming close enough to brush my hair.
“What was that?” yelled my son.
I am almost certain it was the neighborhood owl. Almost certain. I have had one sighting in eight years and otherwise only hear him or her haunting the night with territorial hoots. But I also know this was an advent. It disrupted me enough to know God had heard me. A lot of times God’s work is anything but sudden. Until it is. And I had just enough adventure in my heart that night for a literal brush with an owl to stir my faith again. He has come and comes even still.
May God give you the gift of adventurous expectancy these darkening days.