Adventure to Freedom
We never thought we’d have this much trouble trying to find a descent hotel room. From time to time my long time friend, Jena, and I enjoyed spontaneously taking off for the weekend. We’d typically go to some favorite place and let the weekend take a life of its own. This was just such a weekend. We had met to spend a little time touring a nearby mall for exercise. During our steady, powerless walk, it was not unusual for our conversation to wind its way into a yearning for freedom, taking some time off. It was this conversation that led to jumping in my aging Chevy Malibu and heading for one of our favorite towns a few weekends later.
We arrived late in the afternoon. Having been there before, we knew just which hotels to call. To our amazement, they were all filled. Who would have thought there would be an annual festival that weekend that attracted excited guests from all over the state? What luck! We could hardly wait to enjoy all the festivities. However, we were also facing the sobering reality that better planning should have scrunched its way somewhere in the process. Right before my mind’s eyes was the glaringly flashing proverb, “hindsight is always twenty-twenty.”
I must admit, our spontaneous adventures often left us with second thoughts about how we’d handle future trips. Whether it is an annual vacation, participating on a program, or merely meeting an appointment, no surprise is the best surprise of all. Taking the time to fill in the details removes underlying anxiety that is natural when there are unknowns. There are no shortcuts to ensuring success, no room for chance when your reputation and God’s name is at stake. And, of course, planning ensures what will happen far more often than letting things happen by chance. Without a doubt, our spontaneity usually spawned interesting surprises and often avoidable challenges that folded into the chapters of our adventures; however, in retrospect, they consumed our precious time and contributed little to our weekend enjoyment. We both agreed this had to stop!
Receiving rejection after rejection as the sun faded into a starlit night generated a flood of haunting, unspoken thoughts. Along that dark road there was just enough time for introspective reflection. I remembered the scripture in Psalms 31:3, For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. Had we asked God to lead and guide us in our plans, or were we seeking freedom even from our heavenly Father? Did the assumptions about our intentions for a good time take for granted the blessings and presence of God? In the prayer that launched our freedom weekend, were our hearts in a different place than the prayer of our lips?1 Had we prayed for God’s purpose for us this weekend and allowed Him to lead and guide us in the details of our planning, we would have been enjoying our adventure to freedom much differently by now.
Nearing another hotel, flighty self-interest took a moon-walk slide backward into the grace and mercy of God as the distinct tone of our prayers now shrieked with sincerity. This adventure was a wake-up call! The presence and purpose of God would never again be an afterthought. Even though “letting the weekend take a life of its own” seemed like a fun way to enjoy freedom, the underlying anxiousness was always there. So many times we label our irresponsible effort to avoid accountability an adventure knowing that God is not the author of our confusion, but of peace.2
Nearing midnight, we ended up miles from town at a hotel that must have lost all its stars. The shabby room certainly cured us from taking planning ahead for granted. The blessing that stands out most from this experience was the return to the realization that in the presence of God is peace, the joy we seek, and pleasures forevermore?3
Freedom is not found in taking what seems to be the easy way out; but rather in letting God in. The avoidable challenges of this weekend adventure would forever change the way business would be done in the future. It took an adventure to freedom to truly appreciate the little things that make a big difference.
The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns:
but the way of the righteous is made plain.
1 Isaiah 29:13
2 1 Corinthians 14:33
3 Psalms 16:11
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