“The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive.” – St. Irenaeus of Lyons
I recently discovered these words spoken by Irenaeus for the first time. Every time I consider them they cause me to wonder how we were meant to live, fully alive. As beautiful as these words are, we shouldn’t lose the context in which Irenaeus said them. He wanted us to understand we were made for something more. God created us to enjoy himself in this life and the creation he gave to us. And in that enjoyment, God will be fully glorified in us when we choose to live life to the full. Before anything else, you and I were meant to live out and declare the glory of God through this adventurous life in our everyday comings and goings. It’s a beautiful command to seek life to the full as Jesus came for us to experience.
So, let me ask you the question you may have seen coming – how’s that working out for you? In your own life, do you feel as if you are living every day to the fullest adventure as God intended – declaring the glory of God with your life? Yeah, me neither.
A life dripping with adventure and the glory of God is a journey most of us haven’t experienced.
Our inexperience puts us at a crossroad. We can choose to take the risk of pursuing this life of adventure and full glory as God intended, or we can opt-out, evading risk as many do and choosing the normal life most have. Which life do you desire?
A Risk-Averse Generation
We have become risk-averse in our culture today. From the outside looking in, this statement may seem inaccurate, but when you consider the state of our lives from the life God longs to give us, it’s true. We don’t like risk. Sure, we love the adrenaline rush of pushing our bodies to the limit, but the risk promising a full life in Christ involves something much more significant we aren’t willing to pursue.
Our problem of taking risks and experiencing an adventurous faith as God intends it isn’t just a surface level problem. We keep our emotions, and worse, our spiritual lives in the dark corners of our lives hoping never to be seen by others. It runs deep into our souls, wounds from long ago, keeping us from becoming the men and women God longs for us to be.
Our wounds, then, serve us up to live and act perfectly in a culture of disconnection in which we have been made to believe risks are just hiding behind a screen and posting something controversial on social media while sitting on our comfortable couch in our living room. And while we aren’t sure of what came first, comfort or anxiety, our fear still drives us. In recent years, the American Psychological Association found that the top concern among college students is anxiety, followed closely by depression and relationship problems. These studies and more continue to point out our disconnection from one another in real life as the driving force behind us is no longer taking risks.
The Power of Risk and Adventure In A Fearful Culture
How can you overcome your fears and anxiety to pursue this full life God is calling you to in your twenties? You must discover the power of adventure and how important it is in your life. You must learn to take risks. Learn this pursuit, and you will fly past the borders of your life to places you never thought possible.
So, how do you get there? Begin with these three steps.
1. Understand What Risk Looks Like In Your Life
I used to believe “going on an adventure” meant taking a trip or doing something stupid or scary. But, the older I get I realize adventure often is not defined by those terms. Adventure, at its core, is first taking a risk.
When you can learn to view adventure through this lens first, it will change everything. You will begin to see adventure as not a far-off experience but something you can have in your life right now completely tailored to you and the desires inside your heart. The adventurous faith and life Christ is calling you to will look different than the life of others. Each of our lives is different therefore our risks which lead to adventure will also.
Because our lives are different, you must first discover what taking risks look like for you. While it’s never a one size fits all, it will always involve you stepping out of your comfort zone unsure of what return you will get. Don’t run away from it. Run towards it.
Risks may include forging your relationships, exploring a new career or investing in an idea you can’t seem to shake.
Risk looks different for each of us because our stories are different. Embrace the differences God has given to you and discover what works best. But, before you get worked up in identifying risks for yourself, keep this next idea in mind.
2. Practice Risk With What Is Around You First
The practice of taking risks is all around is. We don’t need to go looking for it. It sounds counter-intuitive to what risk and adventure look or smell like in our world, but it’s true. Risk normally finds it’s home very close to us, often staring us in the face. We need to begin paying attention to its presence, act on what we can and learn from it.
For too long, you and I have allowed fear to steal the wins from our life. We’ve let fear inside the boundaries of our heart and creep right up in our face, keeping us from the people God longs for us to be. Not anymore. Send the fear you are experiencing to the fences and begin practicing taking risks in small ways with what is around you, first.
I recently quit my job to write, speak, podcast and pursue an online business full time. I left behind a successful career in ministry to pursue the next season of life God has for me. I am beyond excited about it. But, it hasn’t come without needing to send fear to the fences, either.
On a recent Sunday evening, I was looking at my budget for the coming months, and my heart began to fill with anxiety and fear. I started writing stories in my head wondering if I had what it took to get this business off the ground. I went to bed still allowing this fear to form around my heart.
On Monday morning I woke up and decided I was no longer going to allow this fear to overtake me. It was time to send it to the fences of my life. I first prayed and asked God to take this anxiety away from me. I then decided to take a small risk I had never done before but was nervous to step into: edit the first episode of my podcast.
It doesn’t seem much of a task now, but at the time, it was the linchpin to turn my fear around into a risk, which led me to a small adventure my heart had never taken. I edited the episode (turning out way better than I thought) and my sense of excitement and the full life Christ is calling me went flying through the roof.
This example may seem laughable to you, but it turned my entire day and week around. Instead of letting fear get the best of me, I chose one small risk around me, and I took it. My faith and sense of adventure have only grown through that experience.
Small risks are sitting all over your life. Take one today. It may change the trajectory of your life. If you want your life to be more adventurous, take the small risks. Move.
3. Get Others Involved In Your Dialogue and Practice Of Risk
We were created to do life together. While this isn’t news to anyone, we almost forget it daily. We’ll take a deeper dive into this idea in the next part of this series, but you will find yourself more involved in the practice of risk when you allow others to speak into how you are taking them.
It’s essential we involve others because they can often pinpoint places in our lives concerning risks we can’t see and then push us further towards them. My life would be a wash without the people Jesus has placed around me that help me take risks. When you allow others to assist you in this way, your life will only go further, faster.
Adventure Begins In Your Living Room
Having an adventurous life doesn’t begin at the ends of the earth. The adventure starts in your heart and on your couch. It’s a simple step outside your front door, deciding you are not going to allow fear to win, but small risks to carry you.
What step do you need to take in the adventure direction? What areas in your life right now are up close, leaning on you to take a risk. It could be making a phone call. Maybe it’s sending out an e-mail or developing an idea with friends that can turn into your passion. Whatever it is – start small, take one step and fall straight into risk.
Stop dreaming of backpacking Europe with your best friends when you haven’t rattled the cages of your heart, taking risks right where you stand.