By Phil Matarazzo
Grand: magnificent, impressive, awe-inspiring, splendid, majestic, monumental.
Adventure: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity; exploit, escapade, feat.
“A traveler is really not someone who crosses ground so much as someone who is always hungry for the next challenge and adventure.” Pico Lyer
The Grand Adventure Inward
“The longest journey is the journey inwards, of him who has chosen his destiny, who has started upon his quest (his grand adventure) for the source of his being.” Dag Hammarskjold Parenthesis mine.
The journey inward has been quoted by many as being the longest and most challenging adventure of all. As Christians our first challenge and grand adventure is getting healed from the hurts, pain and suffering that come out of past sins. Some are handed down to us through the generations before us. The sins of neglect, rejection, abandonment, and any one of many different types of abuse: emotional, physical, verbal, mental, sexual and/or spiritual abuse. We need to heal from painful memories, painful losses, paralyzing traumas, and destructive sinful strongholds. Strongholds such as anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, stubbornness, judgment, fear, distrust, self-pity, shame, guilt, pride, and denial. A stronghold is a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld. As long as you hold on to these strongholds and your past you will never be able to make emotional, relational, personal and spiritual progress.
Strongholds keep you from emotionally and spiritually maturing and leave you stuck somewhere in the past. A sinful stronghold is a belief or pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Sinful strongholds cause division, drama, chaos, anxieties, insecurities, confusion, depression, hopeless despair, and stress. Stress is the main cause of many physical illnesses.
To alleviate these diversions to your wholeness you must put yourself on a journey to discovering the lies, pull them out by their roots and replace them with the truth (John 8:32). The grand adventure of demolishing sinful strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:1-5) is the journey of self examination in discovering your hearts true condition (Psalm 139 23,24). Discovering why you feel and do the things you do (Romans 7:7-25). The truth may hurt for a while, but living a lie will hurt forever. Truth is painful, change is painful, old habits are hard to break, confession, transparency and vulnerability are scary but it’s the only way towards freedom and wholeness (1 John 1:9). Without awareness, the willingness to find out what your root issues are, taking ownership, and making a committed effort to overcome you will stay stuck in a place you don’t belong, and will continue the crazy making cycle of repeating your past, and the unhealthy cycle of pretending and performing. A performer is someone who is pretending to live life; actor, body double; a person who entertains; a person who is more fake than real. If you have the courage to be genuine, real, and authentic then take yourself on the grand adventure inward.
Lust of the flesh — Lust of the eyes — The pride of life, and the devil who tempts us to sin and tries to lead the whole world astray are other problems we must fight against.
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9a NIV).
In our grand adventure to freedom and wholeness we must first overcome bad habits and replace them with good habits. We must stop pretending and performing, expose our secret shame and guilt. We must stop managing our sin. We must stop taking things personal, getting defensive, and overreacting. We must stop judging ourselves and others, and begin to forgive.
The carnal verses the spirit
We have two completely opposite natures living in us that are in opposition. The carnal sinful nature and the spirit nature. The second challenge and grand adventure for followers of Christ Jesus is walking in the Spirit. Setting yourself free from submitting to our other adversaries, the flesh, and the devil. “So I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NIV) — “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).
The flesh is also commonly known in Scripture as ‘the carnal sinful nature — the fallen nature — the old sinful self — the old man — the natural man.’ Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life comes natural to the natural man. The natural man sets its mind on the things of this world for its significance, identity, security, destiny, and it’s legacy. Because the world is only temporal, these things you seek are likewise only temporal (1 John 2:15,16).
The spirit nature sets its mind on the kingdom of God for its significance, its identity, security, destiny, and its legacy. Because the kingdom of God is eternal these things are likewise eternal (Matthew 6:33). Why do people throw their lives away on striving to build their treasures, securities, significance, identities, destiny, legacy, and their kingdom down here on earth? They are building their lives on false security. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, were moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew:19,20 ESV). Don’t waste your life away by doing life out of the carnal nature and striving to make this world your permanent home. Stop seeking to satisfy your needs through the world’s patterns, morals, and values (Romans 12:2a). To overcome you must crucify the ego’s flesh, not stroke it or encourage it (Galatians 5:24). By encouraging the ego you strengthen the flesh, and by strengthening the flesh you weaken the Spirit. Where the flesh thrives there is death, and where the Spirit thrives there is life, peace, and freedom. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6 NIV). (Also read Corinthians 3:17). If this is not bad enough we have a battle with the devil who desires to lead us astray and devour us. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV). We must fight the flesh and the devil as God instructs us. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full amor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV). (Please finish reading this section through verse 18. Also read 2 Corinthians 10:1-5).
We ALL have a battle to fight, so stand up and fight.
“But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 Berean Study Bible). (Also read Romans 3:23 — Psalm 51:1-5).
The flesh presents itself as good and righteous, pretending and performing to be someone it can never be. It can never please God no matter how good he is at pretending, and how hard he performs (Romans 8:8). For he is no more than an imitator, an imposter, a hypocrite, liar, thief, manipulator, and a murderer. The human heart/the flesh is deceitful, and desperately wicked. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). He is an enemy of God. “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7 NIV). Don’t just lay down and watch your enemy steal your identity, your freedom, your destiny, your intimacy with God, and rob you from living the abundant life. Get angry. We all have a battle to fight. So stand up and fight, for you have something valuable to live for. “The enemy wouldn’t be attacking you if something very valuable wasn’t inside you. Thieves don’t break into empty houses. You got purpose.” Author Unknown
Fall in love with Jesus and begin to live
Whenever I refer to Jesus Christ you can apply truth, light and life, for they are one in the same.
The Spiritual journey inward takes us on a fantastic adventure that leads to the narrow gate. The narrow gate leads to life. I believe that the life referred to in Matthew 7:14 is synonymous to light and truth, they all point to Jesus Christ. Jesus claimed to be; ‘the light of the world,’ and ‘the way and the truth and the life’ (John 8:12 — John 14:6). Maybe this is the reason very few find it. To enter in one must completely surrender their rights (Luke 22:42). The rights to their false self; the pretender; the performer; the flesh. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14 ESV). How can anyone ever find this gate if they never take an adventure that leads to getting to the end of themselves. We are all unique beings made in the image of the One true God. There is no one like you and there never will be. Get on the journey seldom traveled and begin to tell your story. How you found the gate that led you into discovering the real you. The gate that led you to the abundant life. The gate that led you to Jesus and freedom, and wholeness, and eternal life.
Put your comfort and rest in Christ Jesus
“At my lowest: God is my hope. At my weakest: God is my strength. At my saddest: God is my comforter.” Author unknown
The more comfort and rest we find in Jesus, the more closely we cleave to Him. Those who refuse to make Jesus their comforter and provider will cleave to anything that will satisfy in the moment of need. They shall cleave more closely to idols than to God. Those who have no delight in Jesus are easily drawn away by the pleasures and passions of their carnal desires and are easily overcome by temptations. Get yourself on an adventure that connects your heart to Jesus. The adventure of seeking and finding Him. The adventure of falling in love with Him, and following Him. “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; To seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him the greatest human achievement.” Augustine Of Hippo
The flesh chooses darkness over light
“And this is the verdict: The light (Jesus) has come into the world, but men loved the darkness more than the light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19,20 Berean Study Bible). Parenthesis mine.
“We are not meant to die merely in order to be dead. God could not want that for the creatures to whom He has given the breath of life. We die in order to live.” Elizabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity: Learning To Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control
The carnal nature does not want to die nor does it want to walk into the light. It would rather live in bondage to darkness. Just another reason why this journey is so difficult. Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me (the grand adventure), you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12 NLT). Parenthesis mine.
The grand adventure of following the true light
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46 NKJV).
Living a sanctified life, a life set apart for God’s glory is a life that surrenders its rebellious carnal sinful nature completely over to Christ (Romans 6:22). Almighty God made this possible by sacrificing His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ as a ransom on our behalf. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NKJV). As your old rebellious nature begins to decrease you give power to the Holy Spirit so that Christ Jesus may increase (John 3:30). We are seeking ‘progression not perfection — impartation not imitation.’ Please do not be duped by the performer who loves to imitate. Christ and His Spirit are the true light, and the only light that can expose the darkness of the soul. The ‘natural’ or ‘carnal’ man, still unsaved, cannot appreciate Spiritual truths, and stubbornly refuses to give into them. “The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 Berean Study Bible). The ‘born again’ believer (John 3:1-8) who is daily sanctifying his nature by the truth of God (Thessalonians 2:13), being empowered by the Holy Spirit, inherits the true nature of Christ Jesus. They inherit His truths, His grace, His attitude, His mind, His thoughts, His heart, His love, His light, His life, and His victory. “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV). His attitude was; humility, submission, obedience, sacrifice, and unconditional love. This is the attitude of a sanctified believer and follower of Christ Jesus. Getting rid of the old, and seeking God. Demolishing strongholds, getting to the end of ourselves, and overcoming the devil’s schemes is our initial adventure, the adventure of being a light to the world must follow. The light of Christ that now shines in you must go forth into the world. He said to them (Jesus speaking), “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on a stand?” (Mark 4:21 NIV). Parenthesis mine.
Our final grand adventure is to spread the good news to the world, and to make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15 – Matthew 28:19). You must present yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and become a lighthouse for all who are confused, lost, oppressed, and hopeless. Those seeking new life by seeking freedom, truth, and seeking to find their true identity, and true destiny.
What is a Christians life if it’s not one grand adventure after another?
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”
What if Jesus denied His Father and refused to go on the adventure that in the end redeemed us. What if John the baptist refused his call of repentance, salvation, and baptism? What if the Apostle Paul refused to go on his grand adventure, spreading the truth and the light to the gentiles? What about the chosen 12 that went into all the world preaching the gospel. What if they chickened out? To the carnal man these adventurers were insane. Look at the trials, the tribulations, the hardships, and the persecutions they had to endure. Where did they get their courage, and their strength? Where did they get their faith? Scripture gives us an answer. There were multitudes who followed Christ, but when the pleasant message of grace and mercy wore off, as Christ was trying to mature them for the grand adventure of walking entirely in the truth, they all grumbled to one another saying, “these teachings are now to hard to accept, we have decided to desert You. We will not take the grand adventure in following You any longer. We’re cutting out, have a nice day.” No, they didn’t say it that way, that’s just my interpretation. Here’s how it really came down. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60 NIV). — “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (John 6:66 NIV).
The 12 chose to continue on that narrow road and to go on the dangerous grand adventure with Jesus, even though they were humiliated, persecuted and martyred. They stood strong. “You do not want to leave me too, do you?” Jesus asked the twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67,68 NIV). What a battle cry. Strap on your boots Christians. Pick up your sword and shield. Fill yourself up with the truth, be empowered by the Holy Spirit, be the light of the world, and get moving on the greatest, grandest adventure of all. The adventure of abandoning ALL to Christ Jesus, spreading the Gospel, making disciples, feeding God’s sheep. Those of you who have seen the movie “Braveheart” know the motivation speech of revolutionist “William Wallace.” My favorite line is; ‘I would rather die for freedom than live in slavery.’ This was his battle cry to his men to get on the grand adventure that led them to dignity and freedom. Simon Peter’s cry was in John 6:68. He is calling out all Christians. To wake up, and be alert. To lay down their lives for dignity and freedom. To get on the greatest and grandest of all adventures we must join Simon Peter in his famous battle cry. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” “We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Do you know and believe as Simon Peter who put his steak in the ground, locked arms with his brothers, abandoned all to God, picked up his sword and shield and followed Jesus Christ? Putting his pathetic life on the front line, knowing and believing that he could not be defeated (Romans 8:37 — Matthew 19:26). We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37). A Christians life is one grand adventure after another. Whatever you do in life please don’t miss out on this grand adventure.
“The greatest adventure in life—Knowing God – begins at the cross of Christ and ends with a “Hallelujah.” David Jeremiah