Intrepid: Life is Either a Daring Adventure, or Nothing
by Samantha Trenkamp
This article first appeared in the May/June 2015 print edition of Daughters of Promise.
After it's all over, We're laughing, “Wow, now that was fun!”
There was the possibility of a tornado dropping down out of those amazing, blue-green, billowing clouds, but it was still incredible! The storm suddenly came ripping across the local park where we were gathered for VBS, bringing sheets of rain and winds so strong that it sent everyone running for the nearest four-sided, solid structure (which was the now crowded bathrooms). There’s papers flying and everything’s in chaos, but for a fleeting moment, I spread arms wide and broad-side the gusts and pricking rain, letting the forces of nature swirl out of control around me.
In that moment, I begin to grasp what it means to see life burgeon and flourish in outstretched abandon, to embrace the obstacles, and live the adventure.
Whether stopping on the side of the road to capture the sunset with a lens, or chasing the call of a Great Horned Owl across a field, or beating a path through the woods with no real “plan” as to where we’ll eventually end up; my younger brother has taught me so much over the years about embracing the moment, about how freeing life is without irrational fears to hold us back, and about fully engaging in the world around me.
We’ve lived ‘in the rural’ all our lives, whether on a hobby farm with expansive fields, or tucked away over the river and through the wooded hills at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ve loved exploring and discovering the riches of the countryside, especially through hiking. “Come on! You can make it!” he calls from the other side over the echo of pounding water.
Exhaling hard; alright…we can do this. Just edge on out there and leave fears on the bank; there’s nothing to be afraid of. But after just a few steps, I look down and see the gapping distance between me and the rocks, and I’m back on solid ground pep talking myself again. Why is this so hard?! I look up to see brother patiently standing on the other side of the narrow foot bridge that’s hovering over rapids and boulders. He knows it’s gonna take his Acrophobic sister a few tries, but I’m worried that I won’t make it at all! Everything in me wants to simply cross that perilous looking log bridge and stand with him over there! After several more tries I finally make it over, and the picnic by the wildflower-edged waterfall further on down the trail was certainly worth it.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” –Helen Keller
What if I had let those possible dangers drive me back to shore forever, instead of letting them sail me out into the open space of adventure? Fear can keep you from some of the best moments the Lord has in store for your life.
Recently my brother and I were traipsing around a favorite spot high up on the local cliffs. “I can’t get any closer to the edge!” I say, “My knees get shaky and it makes me feel like I’m going to fall head over heels down the cliff!"
“Isn’t it ironic,” he surmises, as he dangles over the ledge, “that fear is supposed to help you survive, but it can be one of the first things to kill you.” Must he always be right? As I think about it, fear is a number one killer; it kills our ability to live abundantly, it kills our passion and drive, it makes us unable to branch out to try new things or meet new people.
Jesus said that He came so that we might have LIFE, and have it to the fullest! I believe that includes fullness in our present, mortal life as well as that which is yet to be ours in eternity. Life can become the ultimate adventure! Our experiences and relationships are the only things of earth that will last forever. Some of the most memorable adventures I’ve had, whether it’s been traversing through the mountains or investigating backwoods caves, has always included someone else with whom to share it with.
Have you ever stopped to watch how a child interacts with nature? They have the uncanny ability to find the minutest details. They’ll catch the hint of something interesting and then take the time to get down on their hands and knees to investigate it. (We would do well to mimic their childish delight and curiosity in the small things.) Not too long afterward those little feet are running toward you, “Come look what I found!” New discoveries and adventures are best when shared!
A friend and I decide to break off from the group and head over to the other part of the trail just around the bend. I love how this fellow sister joys in the small things with me as we practically squeal with girlish delight over the delicate flowers and mosses that cover the rocks where the water drips down and puddles. We find perfect hideaways in the clefts, and keep our eyes open for the artistic touches of God. “Look over here!” “Oh! Come look at these!” We walk back smiling, with the pink azaleas we’ve found pinned in our hair.
Taking unplanned exits off the mad rushing interstate we sometimes feel like we’re on can yield great riches. Exploring together helps bind people together by having shared those experiences together. And sometimes the most memorable moments are the ones that are completely unplanned! “I love random!” is often heard around here whenever we decide to do something on the spur of the moment, because we know from experience that the random excursions have given us the sweetest memories.
While we normally think of men as the adventurers and risk takers, I believe that there are ways in which we are all called to be Explorers. There are wonders of nature that only the eye of God has seen, unknown to man and science. We will ever be on a daring treasure hunt to discover more of this great world; and what a joy it must be for our Heavenly Father to watch these discoveries be made by His children, and He can begin anew to reveal the wonder of His power and creativity! We will always be captive to the insatiable hunger of finding more, going farther, going deeper, going higher (to the next galaxy if necessary), but it is all simply the subconscious search for the God who made all things; so that we might discover more of His glory, more of His beauty, as we see His perfection in the world around us.
“As we conquer peak after peak we see in front of us regions full of interest and beauty, but we do not see our goal, we do not see the horizon; in the distance tower still higher peaks, which will yield to those who ascend them still wider prospects, and deepen the feeling, the truth of which is emphasized by every advance in science, that ‘Great are the Works of the Lord’.” –Sir Joseph J. Thomson
To explore is to seek to discover the Creator anew. Going on expeditions with others, whether planned for or not, is an outlet to discover fresh joy in that which He has made. And it’s just plain fun too! So go out and dive right in! There’s a whole, wide world just waiting!
WAYS TO EXPLORE IN THE COUNTRY
1. Stay up for a meteor shower. Invite friends over with telescopes, blankets, and snacks to make it a real “late night” party!
2. Climb to the top of a mountain and watch the sunrise/sunset. Maybe have a group Bible study or prayer time as well.
3. Sleep under the stars.
4. Go biking.
5. Take to the water with a kayak or canoe.
6. Plan a day hike with your youth group.
7. Berry picking party!
8. Grab some binoculars and go birdwatching. Turn it into a competition/race to see who can come up with the most species.
9. Plan a campfire dinner where you have to obtain everything from your surroundings (utensils, plates, etc.).