On Sunday afternoon a particularly evil pair of friends of mine (yes, that's YOU Peter and Aurelie Mikl!) took me on what I thought would be a nice walk around a mountain lake. The trouble with this couple is that they are disturbingly fit outdoor types. We had walked for half a mile in one direction when the path ran out.
"Don't worry" they said. "If we just climb that escarpment, over the fence that probably isn't electrified, and down the other side, we can probably get round." Off they set at a pace that left me gasping, each with a child strapped to them.
The fence was electrified. They let me go first. It made my head zing. When we got over the escarpment and down the other side we found no path. Instead a bog. With large, fast flowing streams crossing it. "Come on," said my friends, "take off your shoes and let's ford." The water was coming directly off the snows above. They happily splashed around in the icy torrents occasionally finding berries and wild cress to eat. An hour later we reached the path and a restaurant.
I've got to say it was brilliant! They do this to me about once a year and I always complain and always love it. I would never do it on my own. I would never do it without adventurous friends pushing me to explore my limits.
That's pretty much like discipleship. Without examples, leaders, adventurous friends we all tend to stick to well-trodden paths, doing nothing adventurous, nothing stretching, nothing wonderful. We miss out. There are berries and wild cress out there. There are streams that we can ford that we didn't know we could cross. There are vistas and wild views and experiences there to be had that we will never have if people didn't invite us to come with them to see. In turn there are others who will never see what we have seen of the Lord unless we take them.
There are spiritual muscles that will never get used, opportunities to grow with God that will never come to fruition. The worst thing is to settle for having no adventures in the Christian life. That is the definition of faithless spiritual mediocrity. Do we somehow think that travelling with God to see new vistas, new things he is doing, new fields to reach for Jesus won't be wonderful? If our watchwords are "caution", "safety", "risk-free", "comfort" we will have a really boring spiritual life. At the end of our lives the tragedy will be that we realise that there were escarpments to climb that we never climbed, rivers to ford that we never crossed, panoramas to marvel at that we never glimpsed, adventures with God that we politely declined.
Let's find people who push us into adventures with God. And let's in turn be dissatisfied until we find others to come and take the difficult, adventurous, more wonderful paths with us!