On Saturday morning, I felt prompted by the Spirit to change the plans I had for a sermon at the Trail Alliance Church for Sunday. The new theme came to me quite quickly, though I didn’t have time to develop it until that evening. This happens to me occasionally; I have a nice sermon planned and then I sense God prompting me to change it. It has to do with how God is working in my life and what I sense the congregation really needs to hear at that time. Rather than go with what I had planned, I go with what I think the Spirit is saying. It makes for some feelings of “angst” because I tend to like to have a pretty good idea of where I am going in a Service well before the time approaches.
In line with this experience, I felt the Lord was telling me to preach about Living the Adventure. This came about partly because of what I felt God was saying to me about the year ahead from Psalm 52:8, 9. In this Psalm David is lamenting the evil that he has had to endure at the hands of one (King Saul) who considers David his mortal enemy. In this particular case, according to the title of the Psalm, David’s encounter with Ahimeleck, the priest of Nob, ends up costing the priests of Nob their lives because of one of Saul’s men named Doeg who betrays David and Ahimeleck to Saul. Saul calls the priests of Nob to Gibeah (where he was camped at the time) and ends up having them all executed (except for one who escaped to tell David the sad news).
David feels very sad about what had happened but determines to trust the Lord in a fresh way for God’s blessing and deliverance in his life. In verse 8, and 9 of Psalm 52, (ESV) he says,
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.
These are the verses that I felt were especially for me as I thought of the year ahead on January 1st. Despite an overwhelming sense of evil in the world everywhere, I am determined to trust in the steadfast love of God, being like a green olive tree in God’s house. I will continue to serve God in the context of His church (the house of the Lord).
I had the opportunity to test this resolve as I flew to Castlegar from Prince George this past Thursday. Though the weather was beautiful in Prince George, it wasn’t exactly fly-in weather in Castlegar, and so when I got to Vancouver they said the flight was cancelled. (Hence the name Cancelgar for Castlegar!). I had a number of options but none that would take me to Trail that day. And it was important for me to get there on Thursday because of responsibilities I had the next day. It turned out that the best option was to fly to Cranbrook and rent a car.
In arranging the rental of the car form Cranbrook, it became evident that others were in the same circumstance and also needed a ride from Cranbrook to Trail. So I had passengers. It turned out to be an adventure of faith to travel with strangers for a few hours, to hear one another’s stories, and for me to get to tell my own story of faith. I so much sensed God’s help and blessing in this experience. It became a kind of symbol of what it means to live the adventure to which I aspire this year.
This is what I believe God calls all of us, who are followers of Jesus, to live like. He so strongly desires that we experience his life of abundance that He promised through Jesus (John 10:10). He wants that we live in dependence upon him, that we listen for his voice and communicate with him, and that we act out of obedience to him when he speaks to us. It means that we will undoubtedly be called upon to do things that are outside of our comfort zone. But when we do what he bids us, in dependence upon him, we experience the adventure that he ordained for us.
It has been people who lived this way that inspired my own interest in following Jesus and serving him. I can think of missionaries that came to our church when I was young who seemed to demonstrate this life of adventure. I knew a businessman like this who lived this way and encouraged me to live this way too. This is the main message of Major Ian Thomas of the Torchbearers Society, who also wrote, The Saving Life of Christ. This founder of the Capernwray Schools taught, based on many Old and New Testament examples, that God’s intent was for us to live our lives in complete dependence upon the very life of Christ.
Though we naturally tend to want to live with various human securities, God is constantly calling us to abandon these securities in exchange for what it means to trust completely in Him. And even when we do, it doesn’t mean that things are always comfortable. We have to get used to the idea that disappointment can mean a change in direction that calls for a fresh sense of dependence upon Christ.
What a thrill it is to risk something and then to discover a new sense of freedom and power because God is at work in and through our lives. This is what it means to live the adventure, to be like a “green olive tree in the house of God.” I look forward to living this adventure in these days.