Monday, March 27, 2006

Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you remember those books? I read them voraciously as a kid (and as an added bonus I learned to use words like “voraciously” by reading a lot; my kids will read all the time just so they can understand the 25¢ words that I like to use). Something about determining the future of the characters appealed to me. I liked the choices, the decision making power, and let’s be honest, the fact that I could always change my mind and go back and re-create the story.

Ok, it’s confession time. I ALWAYS would read ahead on all the options to see what the consequences were for the choices I made. If I knew that by going left on the path I would come to a cliff and fall off and die, thus ending my adventure I would choose right, thinking that anything is better than dying by cliff jumping with no parachute. There were those times that both choices ended with me dying so I would backtrack my choices until I could find a path that lasted longer.

See I wanted to outsmart the choices and have the BEST adventure possible. The funny thing is that I didn’t want to experience the adventure for what it was, a unknown storyline where the decisions you made had consequences (both good and bad) and you had to deal with them. No, I wanted a “safe” and “known” adventure where I got what I wanted by my own ways, i.e. cheating. Yes I know that as a youngin I cheated my way through a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I’m not proud to admit this, although at that time I would have lied through my teeth swearing that I made all the “right” decisions on my own just out of good luck and some smart choices.

Funny how our adult life is often not so different from our childhood. The same little gal who had spunk and wanted an adventure, but one that was safe and known, is the same adult woman who likes that her future is out there for the taking but wants to know the end before stepping on the path.

Conditional Faith. Really that is what we are talking about here. I will trust if my demands are met. And my demands are to know the end, to see the prize, to see all the choices and their consequences and have the ability to choose the path of least resistance. I want the assurance that I will get what I want when I reach the end of the road. It isn’t even conditional faith, it isn’t faith at all. For faith is trusting without knowing, at least without knowing all the details, knowing all the end results, knowing how it will end up on this earth. See I know the finality of it all, I’ve been blessed with knowing how the story ends, but the story doesn’t end here on this earth. That part of my future is hidden from me.

Last night I was talking with a friend about this very thing. I mentioned that if I knew how it would all turn out then I would have no problem walking the path. I just needed God to give me a glimpse of the future, to assure me that there were answers at the end.

And then it hit me. Literally I felt my mind “punch me”. For in that instance I looked into a mirror and saw not myself but someone else. Heard not my words but someone else’s. For on Friday I had overheard a student speaking with a teacher. The teacher was explaining the consequences for actions that the student had done (or actually not done). The teacher then tried to encourage the student that if they worked exceptionally hard for the remainder of the year and showed effort and character that there was the possibility for mercy to be given on their account and they might not suffer the consequences of the actions. The student then asked for assurance that if they did all the teacher had asked that they would be guaranteed mercy. The teacher said that he couldn’t guarantee it because it wasn’t in his hands. The student retorted that he didn’t want to do all the work and put forth all the effort if he wasn’t going to get the reward in the end. I remember sitting in my office shaking my head and thinking that this student had just showed his true character. Without the promise of receiving what he wanted he wouldn’t put forth any effort. His character wasn’t to do what was expected because it was expected but to do it because of what he would get out of it. I hurt that this was a student who was so selfish and in that moment showed no appreciation for the grace that had been bestowed upon him.

And that was what came to my mind as I uttered my ill-fated words. How selfish of me. How small of a character I exhibited in that one moment. I gave God an ultimatum that if He would only show me a hint of my future then I would willingly follow him. It wasn’t a thought born out of rebellion or mockery; it was a questioning of my heart. It was honest and really a cry out to God to just show me that there were answers out there but that cry was misplaced. And in His abundant grace, mercy, and love He brought to me a memory of the character that repulsed me and the character I was so close to adopting.

Our lives really are a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Within the confines of our stories and the options God places in our life, we have the opportunity to choose the path we walk. The end of the story is the same, the path is very different. I make choices everyday, some taking me toward God, some taking me away from Him. Every choice I make has a consequence and moves me in a direction. Part of me wishes that the story was at my finger tips, that with a quick flip I could see how this one decision ends up but we don’t have that right.

Faith is not the response to evidence seen, it is a longing for what is unseen but known, for what is unexplained but believed, it is assurance that our hopes are rooted in truth and not emptiness. Faith is lived. Faith is walked, step by step, choice by choice.

And so I realized in that moment, that I want the character that exhibits this faith. I want to be changed, to be new, to be different from whom I was. And I realized that the only way for this to occur is to live the story without knowing the details, to walk the path without always knowing the direction. To do this not out of what I will get in return, not out of assurance that this earthly time will be rewarded with what I want. But to live because He asks me to, to walk because He leads me, to choose because He has brought me to a fork in the road, and to take from every moment the character that He shapes by this story.

For when my story ends, when I reach the last page I hope that I can look at the story as the best part, at the choices as the times when I was most changed, and that I can watch the transformation of Katie from who she once was into Him who loves her.

It is the adventure that we are here for. It is the change that the adventure brings. It is faith that makes the adventure bearable, and faith that carries us along. It is faith that brings the change.


Blogger Mark D said...

Wow, very good post, Katie.

3/27/2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger steve said...

AMEN! Good post my friend, good post. I also was a big fan of teh choose your own adventure books and I also liked to glance ahead and see what might happen if I "pull the Elf holding the giant broadsord from cliffs edge" or if I just "ignore the elf's plea for mercy" or if I just "booted Elf to the melon and cheer gleefully as he fell into the merky darkness of the abyss"

wow, i have issues

3/27/2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger Amstaff Mom said...

Jubal. Mercy should ALWAYS be granted in a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Don't you know the rules?!?!

I loved checking those books out at the library. They were oh so fun!

I loved your parallels to everyday life K-T. We have the choice of an adventure with God or an adventure without him. Crucial decisions we make everyday affect our outcome.

Great post!

3/27/2006 1:55 PM  
Blogger Aim Claim said...

Great post.

ps. I used to cheat on "Choose Your Own Adventure" books as well :( You are not alone!

3/27/2006 3:29 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I never cheated. I hated it when it ended so drastically a few pages later because you made the wrong choice... I always wished that it would have been a separate entire story that would have occurred if you made a different choice... so I didn't like these books.

Funny how the choices we make end up giving us a completely different out come for us or our kids.

Great post Katie! I agree though... we can't cheat when it comes to faith... to depending on God. Great corelation!

3/27/2006 4:44 PM  
Blogger green said...

I loved those choose your own adventure books!

That was really cool post. I love it when I read something that makes me stop and think.

Thanks again, Katie.

3/27/2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks Katie. I really needed this. I'm glad that God is teaching you and molding you. Faith is so cool: God is even cooler.

3/27/2006 10:53 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

Good words.

And I loved Choose Your Own Adventure. Particularly one about a haunted house -- I think it was "Chimney Rock" and one about being stranded on a desert island.

3/28/2006 7:17 AM  
Blogger bianca said...

ok- that post was way to long for me to consider reading it- maybe later in the day if I get bored at work...
Anyhow! I wanted to tell you I remembered the name:

Ghetto Roll.

Haaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaaaaa...but since I remembered and YOU didn't, the deal is off!

3/28/2006 9:05 AM  
Blogger jes said...

um, katie. contradiction by the second paragraph.

if you read ahead to see what was going to happen, then don't you think that's actually sort of like choosing that option, and then after finding out what happened, you went back and chose the second option?

so, it was less like you were being choosy and more like you just wanted the best scenario.

incidentally, i did the same thing.

did you read that one about aliens and walking down the beach and finding a piece of driftwood? i don't remember the title of that book, i just remember learning for the first time what driftwood was.

3/28/2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger Eddo said...

okay, it took me about 5 stops to get through all of that, but it was a good post nonetheless. I need bookmarks added next time KT when you decide to write a Novella! :) Perhaps you should do what Steve did and write a book!?!?! You could totally do it KT, something Christian and thought provoking... have you ever thought about it?

3/28/2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Ha ha ha! Katie, did you read what Eddo wrote? "Write a book." Told ya' so, told ya' so, told ya' so!! =) yep, we're gonna convince you one way or another! That's great.

Awesome post! Made me examine my own faith. Very good!

3/28/2006 3:29 PM  

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