Occasionally life tosses us an unexpected adventure. Honestly, my entire 50 years with Dave were one prolonged adventure! While he sometimes scared the life out of me, I was always the secure that he was confident he knew what he was doing, and we would be fine! And….here I am many years later still breathing….
Adventures are NOT so much fun when I’m on my own. Being in good company with many other widows, I often feel that when he left, much of my self-confidence went with him. (This is not unusual and is common to most widows.) Things that I have done on my own for years look like insurmountable obstacles that I lack the confidence to accomplish.
Such an occasion presented itself to me in early January. A very close friend who lives on the Gunflint Trail close to the Canada/US border fell on the ice and was seriously injured. I offered to go stay with her for a while (also a wonderful time away for me!) …before I knew the blizzard was coming. Until early January, we had received almost no snow in Nebraska. The roads had all been clear and dry, so I didn’t think twice about packing up Louie and driving 11 hours north to spend time in the north woods with a friend…before I knew the blizzard was coming!
I packed clothes, books, puzzles, office work and Louie. I went to Grease Monkey for an oil change and safety check on the car. We packed snacks and filled up with gas. And then it happened! The forecast predicted winter weather coming. In my head I heard Dave telling me to add some things to my packing: winter gear, water, kitty litter and a shovel, flashlights, extra batteries, blankets….and most of all “drive on the top half of your gas tank!” I grew up in Michigan, so I learned to drive in winter weather. But, all of a sudden, my confidence about making this trip went out the window! I’ve driven it many, many times…sometimes by myself…but never alone in winter with only my little dog for company.
My mind began to conjure up everything that could possibly go wrong. I nearly convinced myself that this was a very bad, and highly impossible idea! But the Lord was still saying, “Go”, so I left a half day early and found clear, dry roads all the way to my daughter’s house four hours away in Iowa. I was then stranded there for three days with blizzards all around us! I couldn’t go ahead because the roads were impassable, and I couldn’t go home because all the interstates into Omaha were closed! The bright side was that it turned out to be a fun three-day stopover with my kids and grandkids!
I still had a great deal of peace about going, so I began to ask God if he would open a way through the weather like He did through the Red Sea and the Jordan River! Sunday morning, I woke up to bright sunshine, snow everywhere, no wind, and a pathway of clear roads just where I needed to go. To say the next 8 hours were a little dicey would be accurate, but it was a beautiful drive with no mishaps all the way along the shore of Lake Superior and into the forest! I returned home two weeks later on clear, dry roads and had a wonderful time of fellowship and rest while being there for a friend.
Why do I share all of that? Merely to say that I learned some deep lessons about listening to God’s instructions for every move to make. I learned that the thing I thought I could never do was totally possible while staying close to Him.
Many heroes of faith in the Scriptures had to launch “Great Adventures”. I think of Abraham leaving his country of birth and simply following God to a land that He had promised to show him…without telling him what or where it was! (I imagine conversations with Sarah over that one!)
Moses launched on a camping trip (in the desert) with several million people and all their animals and possessions without knowing exactly what they were going to encounter or how exactly they would get there! And did they have adventures on the way!
David set out to take lunch to his brothers in the army and ended up killing a giant! Sometimes when we set out on a grand adventure, we may also end up slaying giants along the way. For us those giants may look like fear, anxiety, or insecurity. We may have no self-confidence and be convinced that we will fail at what we’re attempting.
But guess what?! Every time we try something we’re unsure about and it ends up being successful, our confidence grows. We feel encouraged and empowered. We begin to believe that we can really do this on our own! As our confidence increases, we become more adventurous and more willing to step out to try new things. Our strength begins to return, and – yes – our joy begins to return with it!
A picture of a really Great Adventure is painted for us in the first chapter of the book of Joshua. In this particular scene, Moses has died – the last of those who wandered in the wilderness due to disobedience. Only Joshua and Caleb remain of that entire generation. God gives the command for Joshua to lead the people into the promised land, and there we find something interesting. Over and over is this phrase in a variety of forms: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.” This command is given to us as widows (just as it was to God’s people Israel): “Be strong and courageous!” God promises to go into any situation with us, and He promises He will not abandon us!
So, today, what is the Great Adventure that you see God setting before you and calling you to? What is the thing that you hesitate to do because you lack the confidence to even try? Let me challenge you with this thought: “Be bold! Be strong! Be courageous! Be aggressive and go for it!” Why? Because you can, and because your God goes with you.
Jesus said He came to give us abundant life…life lived to the fullest…thriving not just surviving! Sometimes that abundant life includes an adrenalin rush, doing something you didn’t think you could do! Step out of your comfort zone today and begin to live your life abundantly, doing all the things you never thought you could do.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.