TRUST: Enjoying the Adventure.
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Most who know me, know of my love of roller coasters and amusement parks. I love the feel of my body pushing forth in speed as it swoops up and then down, seeming to defy the rules of gravity as it flies through the skies. Or the adrenaline rush of fear as I, accelerate with speed, feeling the heavy G-force slamming me into the seat, or the dizzying spins and upside-down flips. I enjoy this so much, while trusting that the odds of death are low due to the high standards of safety in today’s amusement park industry. Is there risk? Of course. But logic tells me the risk is lower than that of car accidents and I choose to trust the amusement parks and... enjoy life. As a result, I can experience the thrill of danger while at the same time for the most part remaining fairly safe. Was it always this way? No.
I will never forget my early experiences on adult rides starting in the first grade. With each year, I chose riskier and scarier rides and before long, I graduated to the carnival upside- down rides such as the Dutch Shoes and The Rock-o-Plane. The latter one terrified me so much that I often prayed my way through it, promising God I would change my life for him, or study harder or behave at home, if he would only save me from the impending doom of death. And yet, as soon as I got off the ride and was able to catch my breath, I would want to do it again. Why? Because I did have some element of trust that I would be okay.
But it’s more than trust, that had me going on these crazy rides. Trust wouldn’t be the only reason to get back on these; It was lots of fun. Otherwise, I wouldn’t still enjoy them even today as a man in his fifties. I love the adventure, the thrill, the emotions, the sensations and at times the feeling of soaring like the birds. It’s living life and experiencing many of the emotions in a few minutes. Today, I still love amusement parks, mostly because the little boy inside me comes to life and is allowed to play and enjoy the adventure.
A friend of mine told me of a book that gathered much of Pope Benedict’s writings called, Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI by Amy Welborn. It is a very moving compilation of his writings, homilies and speeches. My favorite was his speech at an Encounter with Youth in 2006. Several times in his works, he referred to our journey in living the Christian life as; an adventure. At a Youth Encounter, he went into beautiful detail about this:
“…it is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us. And then, the awareness of what I am, of my possibilities: on the one hand, courage, and on the other, humility, trust, and openness, with the help also of friends, of Church authority, and also of priests, of families: what does the Lord want of me? Of course, this is always a great adventure, but life can be successful only if we have the courage to be adventurous, trusting that the Lord will never leave me alone, that the Lord will go with me and help me.. Encounter with Youth, April 6, 2006
As I read this, the little boy inside me began to feel excited. Living the Christian life is an adventure. It’s filled with experiences to be had, unexpected twists and turns, heartaches, joys, adrenaline rushes, fear and fun. That is... it's fun if we are willing and able to trust the Lord fully. I would never go on the roller coaster again if I didn’t trust those that own and operate it. Why? It would no longer be fun. I would experience fear but no sense of safety. Similarly, in order to enjoy our lives fully and to know Jesus more deeply, we need to trust him and seek him out. This is part of the adventure. The apostles were told to put out their nets into the deep when they didn’t catch anything. Can you imagine the fun it must have been to pull up the net and it was busting at the seams? I am sure they felt excitement, amazement, wonder as to who Jesus was and yes… they had fun.
My spiritual director has asked me to read the gospels paying attention to the humanness of the disciples. It is causing me to reflect on the gospels in a new and exciting way. It’s not just stories. I am seeing these gospels come to life as I put my experience and understanding of what it means to be human as I read. In a sense, I am beginning to imagine I am there, watching the events unfold. It’s becoming an experience. As this happens, I am more aware of Christ in my own personal life and the choices I make.
Living as a Christian in today’s culture is filled with risk, but it was that way for the apostles as well. This explains why Peter denied Jesus three times, and why none of them except John was there at the foot of the cross along with Mary and other women, as Jesus hung to die. Today, there is much hostility and bullying done towards Christians on social media. As a matter of fact, it is even dangerous to profess to be a Christian in certain parts of the world today.
We don’t know what the future holds for us. But if we trust in God fully, then it doesn’t matter. But to trust him, we need to know him. And the more we get to know him the more we want to be like him. This is one reason why I am at peace being chaste. I don’t think about what I can’t have or what I don’t have with others. Instead I try to focus on who God is and how much he loves me and what I do have by seeking out his will for my life and living that out. As a result I am more open to his peace, more open to be transformed and can fully enjoy the adventure. And what an adventure fully living this Christian life is! It is a true adventure that at times is scary, exciting and at times extremely emotionally moving.
The adventure will have it’s valleys and steep hills, it’s unexpected turns and tunnels of darkness. But If, I go on this adventure with my brothers and sisters, I am not alone. The deeper I go, the more my trust builds and the more my trust builds the more I want to go deeper on this fun filled never boring journey with the creator of the universe who in Isaiah 43 said that I am precious in his eyes and that he loves me. There is no reason to fear even the scary parts. Because the scary parts will cease, just like the terrifying Rock-o-plane did and I will be able to catch my breath as I trust in God and go forward to both live out and enjoy this adventure.