Garrison Keillor is credited with observing, “Nothing bad ever happens to writers. It’s all material.” By this he meant, of course, that it is from experiences, good and bad, that the author develops a story line – a making sense of the experience. The result is great literature – words that touch and move us with terror, beauty and meaning.
The same could be said about Christians, it seems to me. Nothing bad ever happens to Christians. It’s all material. Material that the Author of our lives uses to shape and form us ever more fully into the image of Christ and the abundant life to which he invites us. In that sense, life is a great adventure. An adventure that lasts up until the very moment when our baptisms are complete in death. (And then come the biggest adventure of all!)
All adventure literature has recognizable characteristics in common. The protagonist faces challenge, often hardship or suffering, and risk. He/she often encounters new and uncharted territory in the universe or deep within the heart. The adventure is not always sought after. In, The Lord of the Rings, Frodo laments to Gandalf, “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” To which Gandalf responds, “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” But whether one goes out looking for adventure or the adventure comes unbidden, what the hero encounters often changes him. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
“Good adventure to you…” is how one Spanish translation of the Beatitudes renders “Blessed are…” Good adventure to you who are poor for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. Good adventure to you who mourn for you will be comforted. Good adventure to you who hunger and thirst for righteousness for you will be filled. Good adventure to you who are merciful for you will receive mercy. Good adventure to you who are pure in heart, for you will see God. Good adventure to you who make peace for you will be called children of God. Good adventure to you who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for to you is the Kingdom of Heaven.
A new year dawns. I don’t know what you are facing in this new year. But I do know that you do not face it alone. You face it with the One whose plans are for your welfare and not for your harm, to give you a future with hope. And what a good adventure it will be!