A Theological Perspective on Adventure

“Scrambling over rocks, zig-zagging between bear grass and some other clumpy desert ground cover, His feet testing each step to make sure it was solid… finally He reached the summit.  Wind howling, and the storm sounding like the opening music to an eerie mystery movie, He sat quietly for what seemed like hours watching with eagle eye a small rowboat pinned by the wind in the middle of the lake while His best friends strained at the oar.  Waiting. Waiting. More waiting. “Father, shall I go to them now?” He asked.  “Not yet” was the quiet answer, which agonized Him further… not enjoying watching his friends suffer, but in the deeper wisdom of the Father, He knew they must if they were to snap out of their faithless rut.

Finally, wind-whipped and facing the darkness, Jesus stood up, re-tightened his sandals for the descent to the water’s edge.  Climbing down was a relief.  He knew His friends would soon be released from the painful predicament they had been coping with.  Sand sinking and oozing between His toes, He walked into the foaming waves.  Then with only a thought, He stepped up onto the shimmering glaze of the waves and strolled the rest of the way out to the boat. Standing atop the very waves that threatened to capsize this little boat full of terrified men, He pretended to walk by them as they fought against their perishing.  One of them saw a shadow and screamed, “It’s a ghost…’ and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid (Matt. 14:26-27).”


God used the wilderness of this wild water to strip away facades and reveal the core of who they really were.  These men were in great need of faith.  Their foggy human-sightedness was getting in the way.  Now from the stress of the adventure Jesus had them in the palm of His hand.  He came out to them like a potter to His wheel.   God is about shaping His disciples into vessels for a noble purpose.  Like sheep that tremble when the shepherd holds them tight to shear their wool… God uses the wilderness and all of its adventure and fearful circumstances to still us into faith and trust.  Jesus loved them enough to wait on the mountain long enough for them to reach a point of desperation.  Then he came to their rescue, and their formidable faithlessness met its match… the loving face and embrace of their Master who has all authority over all creation.” To more fully understand the biblical theology of adventure-based learning, read, Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice.

How has adventure put you in the palm of Jesus’ hand? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “A Theological Perspective on Adventure

  1. This is an amazing concept, thinking about God meticulously planning out the moments in each of our lives that he is using to shape us and mold us. When most of us set out on a hike or go camping it is done for recreation rather than refining. This is such a good reminder that God’s plan is much larger than we could ever imagine. Just as we have been talking about Jesus’ rhythm of ministry and retreat, we see that those opportunities we have to take a break from the normal routine and escape into the wilderness can be life changing. I like the focus this has though on the times that are not quite so desirable. It seems even more impacting when things go wrong and it becomes less of a vacation and more of testing ground. It is easy to trust God when everything is going well, but it is when we are completely lost, it starts to pour, and we’re running out of food that our devotion is tested.

  2. Ashley,
    I would love to talk with you further about your thoughts and research on this. I am teaching an Introduction to Adventure Therapy class this spring and just came across your website. There’s so much on adventure but hardly anything from the Christian perspective. I’m fascinated by your wisdom!

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