Christian Living: ORDEAL or ADVENTURE?
Good News Magazine
June-July 1980
Volume: VOL. XXVII, NO. 6
Issue: ISSN 0432-0816
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Christian Living: ORDEAL or ADVENTURE?
Lawrence W Greider  

   UP until 1953 no human being had ever set foot on the summit of Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain. Several groups from various countries tried, but all failed to reach the top of the 29,028-foot Himalayan giant.
   In the fall of 1952 a Swiss expedition made their second attempt at Everest with an impressive party, including some of the world's most experienced climbers. They had the best and latest equipment, lightweight down parkas and mummy bags, aluminum alloys that were both strong and light and canisters of oxygen. Yet, despite all the accumulated experience and sophisticated equipment, the Swiss team failed. The towering mountain was shielded by inhospitable weather, light air starved their lungs and footing was never predictable.
   Early in 1953 the British Everest Expedition completed plans to conquer the legendary peak.
   Could the British expedition succeed?"
   The group consisted of experienced climbers such as Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and numerous porters.
   Before setting out everyone underwent thorough training and preparation. Extensive planning determined the best strategy with alternate courses of action. Finally everyone was ready and determined to succeed. The group was prepared for a journey full of dangers. Yet, as they began to proceed up the mountain the challenge became much tougher than expected. Snow blindness, frostbite, exhaustion and other setbacks thinned the ranks. Discouragement crept in. Dangers multiplied the closer they got to the summit.
   Then the whole expedition considered turning back. After all, every step could give way to a hidden crevice. A severe snowstorm could cause the whole group to perish.
   But a few of the climbers remained optimistic. Their vision was to reach the summit, and nothing could deter them.
   Finally, on the morning of May 29, 1953, climbers Hillary and Tenzing started alone from Camp 4 on the mountain's south side. They were within several hundred steep yards of the summit. This was to be the most significant day in their lives.
   One by one, those few last yards became the most demanding and risky steps of the climb. One wrong step or movement spelled disaster. But, driven by a constant vision of victory, the two men persevered — step by step — on the slippery ice. Finally their dream burst into reality. Exhilaration and ecstasy warmed their cold bodies. Their goal was accomplished. In a few days the whole world would headline their victory.
   What makes people go through such hardship, agony and sacrifice? All this was endured in the name of adventure!

Christian life an adventure

   True adventure directly parallels the Christian way of life. Yet, a few of God's people see their calling as a burden to bear. The apostle James exhorts, "Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations" (Ias. 1:2).
   What is there to rejoice about in a difficult situation? What kind of attitude does it take to find joy in the loss of a job, sickness or family rejection? Well, why not regard it all as adventure? Look forward to an exhilarating victory at the end of your struggle, because that is exactly what awaits a true Christian.
   Magazines like National Geographic or major television networks rarely picture great adventure as strolling down a country lane on a summer's day. Pleasant? Yes. But challenging? Hardly, unless the lane is in the middle of a war zone, for instance, or up the side of the world's highest mountain! The larger the potential danger and the greater the odds against accomplishment, the greater the thrill of victory. That is why the highest mountains and the steepest climbs are acclaimed as the most challenging.
   Christian living is a challenge. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph.6:12).
   Christ told us to "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).
   The entire w6rld is opposed to the way of life God has revealed to us. We stand as a small army against great odds. The wrong influences of the world are everywhere, and we must contest against our own human nature. Not only that, we must, with God's help, fight the evil one himself — Satan — who, with legions of demons, is determined to make us forfeit the crown of life.
   Certainly the Christian way of life, like any real exciting adventure, demands much struggle against great odds.

Willingness to endure

   True adventure requires a willingness to undergo difficulties.
   Every mountain climber knows that each expedition demands physical sacrifice. It may mean several days of dangling from ropes, sleeping and eating in cramped spaces, suffering frostbite and enduring bone-chilling coldness — just a few of the costs of going to the top.
   Paul's Christian life was full of difficulties. In II Corinthians 11:24-28 he lists some of his experiences: "Of the Jews• five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice Was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."
   In Luke 14:28 Christians are told to count the cost of living this way of life. That cost could even mean our very lives. True Christians must be willing to undergo difficulties to make it into the Kingdom of God. He who is not willing to "bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my [Christ's] disciple" (verse 27).

Expectation of victory

   All adventure has the expectation, of victory. No leader of a mountain-climbing expedition can afford to expect anything but successful accomplishment. Negativism crushes morale. The vision of victory is lost. Although the Christian way of life is difficult, we must deeply know that victory is possible.
   We are told to be confident of this victory, that "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). We can come boldly before the throne of grace, knowing that our elder Brother has already climbed to the peak and holds the rope for us.
   Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:25-27: "Now they [the world] do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection."
   Paul expected victory. We can also. We have Jesus Christ on our side, and with Him everything is possible.
   Christian living involves the same attitude as being in an adventure. See every inch and every foothold as progress. Consider every bruise and scrape as a part of the price. Struggle on for the thrill of supreme accomplishment — becoming a son of God. There is no adventure greater than the Christian life. See you at the top!

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Good News MagazineJune-July 1980VOL. XXVII, NO. 6ISSN 0432-0816