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DOWN THE GREAT UNKNOWN
Saddle up your horses, we've got a trail to blaze, Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace; Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown; This is a life like no other; this is the great adventure ---Steven Curtis Chapman, 'The Great Adventure'
On your way! But be careful---this is hazardous work. You're like lambs in a wolf pack. ---Luke 10:3, The Message
It had been three wet, miserable days since John Wesley Powell and his team of nine adventurers had crashed through the 14 miles and 35 rapids that make up the section of the Colorado River known as Marble Canyon. Powell and his crew were well into their fourth month of a grueling and dangerous attempt to navigate the entire course of river through the Grand Canyon. It was a journey that began on May 24, 1869, when four boats under Powell's command--the Emma Dean, the Kitty Clyde's Sister, the Maid of the Canon, and the No Name---were launched at Green River Station, Wyoming Territory. The opening quotation above was written on the morning of August 13, 1869, as the expedition team was ready to descend into the roaring water that would lead them into the steepest depths of the Grand Canyon---a journey of amazing adventure, or death, or perhaps both.
Perhaps it seems strange that these should be the opening words in the opening chapter of an introduction to a youth ministry text. We do not commonly think of the classroom as a place of adventure: 'The Quest for Calculus,' 'Journeys in Biochemistry,' 'Expeditions into Spanish Verbs.' We are confronted in these opening paragraphs with words that might give pause to any reasonable person: words such as 'depths,' 'dangerous,' 'death,' and, that scariest of all words for college students, 'morning.' But it is good that we should begin here on the banks of a wild, beautiful, unpredictable river, because this book is about a launch into a grand adventure.
Risk, as we have seen, is indispensable to any significant life, nowhere more clearly than in the life of the spirit. Dan Taylor, The Myth of Certainty
The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier and we who live it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed. ---Howard Macey, quoted in Wild at Heart
There are some very cautious, prudent, and entirely unadventurous 20-somethings who will never do anything wrong because they never do anything. Being an 'old maid' in the following old poem is not a factor of gender; it is a factor of mindset:
Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones. For her life held no terrors. She lived an old maid, She died an old maid, No hits, no runs, no errors. ---Anonymous
Every great story involves a quest. In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins ran from the door at a quarter til eleven without even so much as a pocket handkerchief and launched on an adventure that would change his life forever. Alice stepped through the looking glass into Wonderland; Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter stumbled through the wardrobe into Narnia.Abraham left 'his country, his people, and his father's household' to follow the most outlandish sort of promise from a God he had only just met, and he never came back. Jacob and his sons went to Egypt for some groceries and four hundred years later the nation of Israel pulled up stakes and headed for home. Peter, Andrew, James, and John all turned on a dime one day to follow the Master, their fishing nets heaped in a wet pile.The Sacred Romance involves for every soul a journey of heroic proportions. And while it may require for some a change of geography, for every soul it means a journey of the heart. ---John Eldredge and Brent Curtis,The Sacred Romance (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 143.
A Great Adventure The language of the journey ---the quest, the adventure ---has long been the language of the Christian life. At the very heart of the Bible, in the Book of Psalms, we find no fewer than 15 chapters of what might be described as 'pilgrim songs' or 'hiking songs,' Psalms often referred to as Songs of Ascent.3 In reading through these 15 gritty and earthy psalms, Psalm 120 to Psalm 134, we come to understand why Eugene Peterson characterizes the Christian life as 'a long obedience in the same direction.'4 Life is marked 'not so much by monuments as by footprints.' It is a journey marked not by arrival, but by survival. The Christian life is about a quest, about pressing forward (Phil. 3:12--16, Col. 2:5, Heb. 12:1--3). It is about milestones, not tombstones. William Faulkner aptly sums up the idea this way: 'A monument only says, 'At least I got this far,' while a footprint says, 'This is where I was when I moved again.'
So much of the drama of Scripture centers around journey, whether the study begins with that amazing call in Genesis, 'The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you'' (Gen. 12:1), or that dramatic night, terrible and wonderful, when God led his people out of Egypt on a journey we call the Exodus. It is interesting to note...