Go through, go through the gates,
Clear the way for the people;
Build up, build up the highway,
Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
How would you define or describe what it means to go on an adventure? Fun, risky, invigorating? I suspect we would all have similar yet different ideas. For me personally I think it would be to go somewhere new to me, in a way that is reasonably safe but with a touch of risk, to see or do something that is new to me and that I find to be interesting. I have found that kind of activity, adventures like that, to be satisfyingly soul-filling. And when I am able to share those fascinating and new-to-me-discoveries with people I care about, well – that increases the pleasure of the adventure ten-fold.
These past two years since Sandy and I retired have truly been an adventure for us. You can read some of the details here. Within three months of my retirement we had completely changed our lives around and were ready to launch into the great adventure of life on the road. In some respects (not all) it has been the best two years of my life. Adventure with the woman I love!
The verse included above from Isaiah 62 could be seen as a roadmap for a spiritual adventure with people you care about. Think with me here for a moment … you love Jesus and are filled with gratitude for the outrageous love and grace He has shown to you. But being human, you find it easy to settle in, to let the days and weeks pass in the same-old, same-old way. Sometimes you miss ‘the old days’ when you were out there serving those around you in ways you loved and with people you care about. The sense of adventure has grown faint.
Look now at how Isaiah 62:10 might be a roadmap to a renewed spiritual adventure.
Go through the gates = First of all, Go! Don’t wait, don’t sit, think, analyze and write about it – Go! And then, go where? Go through the gates = you go live the life first, the risky, sacrificial, soul-satisfying-life of following Jesus in the service of others. Said differently, don’t be a travel agent and tell people where and how to go. Be a tour guide by first going yourself, then go back and take them by the hand and walk with them through the gates into the adventure you have already begun to experience.
Clear the way for the people. In this context I think it’s best understood as ‘Turn the people to the path that goes through the gates’ (the Hebrew word here translated ‘clear’ literally means ‘to turn’). Take your friend by the hand and together begin to walk.
Build up the highway. Make it clear and obvious where the path is. Let there be no misunderstandings. Keep it simple and clear. Hold their hand and help them see.
Remove the stones. Your job as tour guide and friend is, as best you can, to point out and/or remove any obstacles you stumbled over as you personally walked through the gates down the path of adventure. Look for trip-hazards that seem to appear just for them. Help each other see the obstacles ahead.
Lift up the standard over the people. Help them to see that they are not alone. You and they are an important part of a vast army of people who are gathering from every continent, every ‘denomination’, and every age to humbly and praise-fully move forward under the flag of our Redeemer and Father. Often times the adventure of service can feel lonely, but we are never alone. Help your friend remember that – remind each other.
And finally, though not spelled out here, I ask you – can there be any higher calling, any more critical mission than this, any more empowering personal life-purpose? To help those who our God has placed within our influence to enter into the spiritual adventure of serving others, and taking someone along with you?
Now, I understand this call to a spiritual adventure may not be meant for everyone at this particular moment of our lives. Sometimes it feels like all we can do is try to make it through the day. I get that, I’ve been there. But if you have been looking for ‘more’ and wondering where and when the sense of adventure went, I suggest this is the answer. The adventure of service alongside people you care about.
This is the first of a series of thoughts on service. Click here to read the next.