In another universe and timeline, my life was filled with physical adventure. Armed with compass and map, we sallied forth through the jungle on an offshore island to reach designated checkpoints. I also did something called ‘night orienteering’. This involved getting from point A to point B in the dead of night through a forested area. No man-made flashlights, merely God-made moonlight. In groups of threes, we gingerly trekked our way back to the campsite with sturdy branches as walking sticks that helped us test the ground ahead of each step we took. Which was how I ended up teetering on the edge of a rather wide and deep depression in the undergrowth and was just one step away from tumbling in. Somewhere in that pitch darkness, I began to appreciate the usefulness of the white cane for those with visual challenges.
Two days ago, my work duties brought me to the home of one of our authors, Wendy, ’cos I needed to top up her stock of books. My quick book-drop turned into a tea oasis—my name for the short interlude of fragrant green tea and life-giving God-centred conversation. We caught up with one another and affirmed how even in the seasons when we are allowed to lie fallow, we (like agricultural land) are being prepared for seasons of fruitfulness.
I know that many in these past couple of years have been lying fallow and considering what lies ahead for them. Some dear ones have been grappling with depression and issues of self-worth. Others are fearful of choices that seem like they’re flying off on a tangent that will not allow them to get back to a safe orbit again.
What’s this got to do with a life of adventure? Ah, well…God doesn’t always give us detailed five-year plans, much less a 40-year plan! But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one in place. When Joseph was languishing in prison, I highly doubt he would have had any inkling of the power he would wield over a nation and the lives he would save, including those of his immediate family.
And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:5 ESV)
When Ruth decided to leave the security of being among her people to trudge alongside her mother-in-law to a foreign land (for Ruth), she never thought she would become the great-grandmother of King David.
But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:11–12 ESV)
At the age of 22, I married a godly man who was 18 years my senior. I hadn’t a clue what God’s plan was for my life, but I knew that God knew. And that was enough. Enough to see me through widowhood at 41, and seven years of lying fallow after that. Like the land which recovers its richness for the next season of planting, I grew in knowledge of God’s faithfulness through His Word and the love of His people, I grew in self-knowledge of who I am as a child of God, and He allowed me a glimpse into the small part I could play in the work of His kingdom. Then, He offered me a new adventure.
Well, a bit like Moses, I demurred and gave reasons for why I would not be a good candidate for the position. But, having been an adventure junkie in a previous life, and having gone on one adventure with God already, I knew He’d have my back. So, I received my marching orders with a tentative “y-e-s”, and dare I say with some measure of excited anticipation of what God’s plans might be (hey, I was going to go on new God-adventures with a tall, not-so-dark, and handsome man). And it’s been an adventure all right! One where my dear husband Soo Inn and I have had to cling on to the guardrails of God’s rollercoaster, and then gawp at how He causes things to come to pass against all expectations. As Luci Shaw wrote:
Does he set our feet on a rocky road, a treacherous track through the mountains? It’s because the view from the top is worth the climb, and he knows how we and our cameras love a good view. Do we find ourselves wandering in a deep, sinister forest, something like Tolkien’s Mirkwood in which Bilbo Baggins found himself? It’s because that’s the way toward the treasure. … If we let ourselves be paralyzed by fear, we will not experience the mountain view, nor the thrill of finding our way into a bright meadow full of sunlight…. (The Crime of Living Cautiously [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005] p. 41.)
Which is why even as Wendy shared about God’s gentle nudges for her to venture into a new season of ministry, and her tentative “y-e-s” to Him, I totally got it.
(Illustration Copyright: Wendy Wong)