Wired For Adventure: Dare to Take the Road Less Traveled!

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Jun 172013
Bilbo's Band of Friends

Going with a band of friends on an Adventure

One of the deepest longings in all of us is the desire to make a difference in this world.  Though most of life is full of the mundane and ordinary, which is important and keeps us grounded, deep down all of us crave adventure. Even the most risk adverse or timid homebody is drawn towards epic stories of bravery, honor, deep friendship, and yes, even some romance. Some of us fantasize about what it would be like to go on a quest with close friends to overcome evil with good. We often choose to live these longings vicariously through someone else’s story rather than daring to take the road less traveled for ourselves. Just look at how popular the recent movie the Hobbit is or how many kids are immersed in video role playing games, especially boys.

The next generation is searching for a an adventure worth giving their lives for!

Don't let fear keep you from saying YES to an adventure!

Don’t let fear keep you from saying YES to an adventure!

Most of us are like Bilbo Baggins from the movie the Hobbit. Bilbo is quite content to stay put in Hobbiton where life is safe and predictable. That all changes when Gandolf and the dwarves show up at his house and invite him to join him on a grand adventure to restore and redeem their homeland from the evil dragon. Initially, he refuses the invitation to join the dwarves on their odyssey. He is afraid, feels inadequate, and would rather enjoy the comforts of Hobbiton than risk signing up for a sojourn with Gandolf and the dwarves which would be rife with danger and uncertainty. After the dwarves leave to start their journey, Bilbo is overcome with that gnawing internal tug we all have to be part of something life changing and not miss out by giving in to our doubts. He overcomes his fears and runs after the dwarves embarking on the joy and challenge of taking the road less traveled with a few, faithful, forgiving friends.

We are all wired for adventure!

We are all wired for adventure!

Deep down we all want to be part of a grand story where even the menial and the mundane things of life have meaning. In short, we all want to live a life of significance. We want our lives to count for something. Even the most shy, fearful person is wired for an adventure that makes a difference.Adventure Seeking

Some try to escape the tedious, ho hum, daily grind by becoming thrill seekers. They embark on some daring feat like climbing Mount Everest, or becoming adrenaline junkies by always pushing the limits. They attempt crazy pursuits such as hang gliding, or the latest craze in Norway, called wingsuit jumping. This is a sport where folks climb to the top of a cliff overlooking a fiord and jump. The first hundred or so feet you free fall. Then at the last possible moment you pull the ripcord for your parachute and hope it works to break your fall before you splat on the valley below.  Sounds crazy to me!

The majority of us will never attempt such great exploits, yet all of us are being invited to go on a grand adventure where we become contributors and sojourners in the Big Story of God’s plan to rescue and restore this world back to His original idea. Yes, as amazing as it sounds, you and I are being tapped on the shoulder with the invitation to join God on His mission to bring justice, peace, beauty, reconciliation, renewal, and restoration to all of God’s creation. (Romans 8:18-21; II Cor. 5:18-20) We have the privilege to be part of God’s natural and super natural solutions to end poverty, to provide clean water and education for all, to be advocates of justice for abused women and children, to eradicate diseases such as HIV and malaria, to bring real peace between competing and warring peoples and ethnic groups, to discover clean energy sources that don’t damage the environment, to create beauty and communicate truth through the arts, and to be the delivery boy or girl who brings the message of Hope to all: the Good News that the Creator of the Universe loves us and desires to have a relationship with each and every one of us.

We are not to go on this journey alone. God promises His backing, and all of His resources to help us. We are to find a circle of friends who together ask these three questions: “What part are you and I to play in God’s Big Story?” and “What are the gifts, talents, and ideas given to us from God to make a difference in this world? ” and “Who are the band of friends that we are link arms with on this grand adventure?”

To take our place in this Grand Story requires taking a risk and choosing to take the road less traveled. These choices are presented to us daily in small ways, and then occasionally in our lives we are given opportunities to choose a path that results in monumental and deeply impacting changes to us and the world we live in. With that I leave you with this poem from Robert Frost to reflect on as you and I contemplate the choices before us:

Divergent Paths



by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 

And sorry I could not travel both 

And be one traveller, long I stood

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Road Less Traveled

Here’s to living a life full of purpose and adventure. Take the road less traveled and see where it takes you!

How Do We Change Part 1: Living From the Heart

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Jan 132012

With the dawning of a new year, many of us are in the throes of taking stock of our lives by reflecting on the highs and lows of the last year, and trying to implement grand plans, or as we like to call them, resolutions, to try and change things we don’t like in our lives. For example, I have noticed the same trend year after year at the gym I go to.  Folks sign up in droves for a gym membership at the beginning of the year, determined to lose weight and get in shape. Yet after a month or so the crowds thin out, and I see mostly the familiar faces of the “regulars”.  People desperately want to change bad habits, but after trying for awhile, they often give up.

Another trend I have noticed in myself and others is what I call “destiny malaise”. Destiny malaise is a condition that can creep up on us even when we have a safe and secure job that pays the bills, offers opportunity for promotion, and a pension at retirement.  Yet, instead of being fulfilled, free, and joyful, we have this underlying feeling that we are going through the motions and not living out the purpose for which we have been placed on planet earth.  When we slow down and listen to our hearts, there is this nagging sense that there must be more to life, and we long to make a difference in the world. For others, destiny malaise comes from feeling stuck in a job that they hate or that is not what they are passionate about. (This is not to say that we can’t find joy or purpose in the mundane tasks of life.) It occurs when we settle for less than we should; when we buy into a false bill of goods about what it means to be successful.

Living with a sense of significance, the awareness that what we are doing is making a difference, and being true to ourselves – these are much better indicators of success. The two questions that I keep coming back to at the beginning of every year are:  Do people actually change? If so, how do people change? With these seminal questions in mind, I would like to do a three part blog on:  How we might actually bring about lasting change in our lives.

Passion Flows From Listening to Your Heart

The first step to change is learning to live from the heart. Unless we get in touch with who we really are, and what we really want, we will lack the passion, gumption, and motivation to change. Many of us are living life trying to satisfy the inner voices of the “ought self”. The ought self is what we feel obligated to be, or what other people think or have told us we should be. I have talked to people who really wanted to be artists, and yet are living under obligation to their parents, who told them that they had to pursue a career as a doctor or engineer, so that they could make a good living.  Now there is nothing wrong with being a doctor or engineer if that is what you are passionate about, and if you feel like you are making a difference in the world. The issue is not what vocation you choose, but whether you are being true to who you are and living with a sense of significance. I admire accountants, but if I tried to be an accountant I would be miserable!

Don’t let the opinion or agendas of others define who you should be. I believe that some of our struggle to change unhealthy habits is connected to living life without purpose or passion. We then anesthetize our pain or relieve our boredom/malaise  with addictions to food, sex, other drugs, and activities that provide an escape or ramp up the adrenaline! These habits dull our ability to hear the inner voice in our heart calling us to more. If we don’t live from the heart we die a little each day. The book of Proverbs puts it this way, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life.”

Os Guiness says it this way, “Our passion is to know we are fulfilling the purpose for which we are on earth.  All the standards of success – wealth, power, knowledge, position, fame – grow tiny and hollow if we do not satisfy this deeper inner longing!”

Here are some questions and a reflection excercise to help you listen to your heart:

1. What would you keep on doing even if you weren’t paid for it?

2. When have you felt the most alive?

3. What kind of job would make you want to get out of bed each day with energy and desire?

4. What is your purpose for being on earth and how would you like to make a difference in the world?

5. Where are you in bondage to the “ought self” – trying to be what someone else thinks you should be, or, where are you held back by the fear of what other people think of you?

6. Try this reflection exercise each day as a tool to learn to listen to your heart.  Ask and be attentive to these two questions:  What made me happy today or what gave me life? What made me sad today or was a life drainer?  The life giving experiences are clues to living from the heart, and the life draining experiences may be clues to what you need to avoid or where you are not living from the heart.

7.  Ask those who know you well what you are good at and then do more of that!

I close with this quote from Steve Jobs, which sums up what it means to follow your heart: “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ Since then…I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Your time is limited…Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”