Missing the Adventure

      Comments Off on Missing the Adventure

When I was 10 years old, the coach of my summer softball team spoke to me some of the most heartening words I have ever heard.

“You have been chosen to be on the All-Star team. And the other coaches and I have been talking, and we want you to be the starting pitcher.” It just doesn’t get much better than that for a 10-year-old boy.

But I was terrified.  All I could imagine was failing.

When game day arrived, I told the coach I had fallen off my bike. Yeah, that’s it. I had a serious injury that would prevent me from standing out there on the mound in the All-Star game.

My coach knew I wasn’t telling the truth. I can still remember the look of sadness and compassion on his face when he failed to talk me out of my fear and handed the ball to someone else.

I have replayed that scene in my mind for more than a half century now – not that it’s had any kind of lasting impact on my psyche.

I made absolutely sure I didn’t fail by failing to try.

Gary Haugen, who leads the International Justice Mission – an organization devoted to rescuing people unjustly imprisoned, enslaved, or trafficked – describes the heartbreak of “going on the journey but missing the adventure.”

Haugen points out that trusting God is usually advertised as a glorious and risky journey where we strike blows against the world’s principalities and powers. But instead of storming the gates of hell, most of us settle for taking notes in the margins of our Bibles and experimenting with chicken casserole recipes for the next church pot luck.

As Gary puts it in his book Just Courage: “Following Jesus was supposed to be a bold adventure of power and beauty and singular importance… Earnest, gifted, mature Christians feel as if they are all dressed up but have no place to go.”

There’s no shortage of challenges. And Americans, on average, have more opportunities, better technology, and more discretionary income than anyone else on Earth to bless others.

But when it comes to making a difference for those who live on life’s margins, all too many of us make sure we don’t fail by failing to try.

Where do we start?  Start somewhere.

As Saint Mother Teresa put it: “Never worry about numbers.  Help one person at a time.  And always start with the person closest to you.”

Just as important: Decide to show up.

In other words, go stand on the mound with the ball in your hand and risk looking stupid.

Looking back, we won’t want to have to face the fact that we went on the journey but missed the adventure.