Does Adventure Exist in Heaven?

One of the things I most love about this life is getting out and doing things that get the blood pumping and adrenaline flowing. In a word, I love adventure, and want to build it into my life more and more.

As I see it, the definition of adventure hinges on this element of risk or danger; the reality that something could go wrong. For example, the excitement of wakeboarding is, in large part, derived from the fact that this could happen:

Now, my issue is that this seems to be in conflict with the concept of heaven, which promises eternal life, an absence of tears, and a healing of every disease. Don’t get me wrong, this excites me a lot, its just that it also has the potential to be a bit boring. I remember a line from the movie ‘In Time’ to the effect that ‘life is only really lived when you know you’re about to die,’ and in some ways that seems quite true.

Nonetheless, I’m confident this desire for adventure is an integral part of the way we’ve been designed, and this element of excitement will be a part of heaven. I wonder if there is some mysterious way we will be able to experience the thrill of danger together simultaneously with the contentment of not facing death, in the same way that Jesus could weep real tears for his dead friend, while knowing full well that everything was going to work out ok.

As a bit of a side note, there’s an article doing the rounds in the blog world at the moment looking at the similarities between porn and an addiction to computer gaming, noting that “Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger.” The article talks about this compromise as a bad thing, but I wonder if ‘adrenaline without danger’ is exactly what is on offer in heaven.

The other possibility, of course, is that I’m completely wrong with my definition of adventure, or am misguided in hoping it is part of the after-life. What do you think?

The Calm After the Storm

This is a poem I scribbled down after making the decision to take a job in Auckland, starting a month before the birth of our first kid. It’s not very polished, and I haven’t gone back to edit it, but here it is…

The storm is over
The decisions been made;
Whether to leave
Or best to’ve stayed.

Right or wrong;
Only the steady course of time
Will prove to this uncertain soul
If this is in life’s grand design.

The time between now and then
Is frought with lonely, tired days.
And yet, in hope, I’ll rise to fight
For a future that will amaze.

Changes: Work

Yesterday I wrote about how my life is going to be transformed by the arrival of a screaming mini-Brown, but mentioned there’s actually a couple of life changing things in the pipeline for the coming months. Well, life changing thing two is that Paula and I will be moving to Auckland, where I’ve taken a job building New Zealand’s Roads of National Significance. More specifically, I’ll be a surveyor for Fulton Hogan on the Lincoln Road Interchange project.

This game changer deserves a bit more of an explanation, given that it isn’t a very intuitive thing (some would just call it stupid) to move to an unfamiliar city, leaving a cherished network of family and friends, just a month before having your first kid.  So here’s some details…

Lincoln Road is one of a number of projects scheduled along the North-Western motorway of Auckland, New Zealand. The project is valued at $100 million, and involves upgrading the existing bridge to a seven lane bridge over the motorway, widening the motorway by a couple of lanes and including bus-lanes, and changing the on and off ramp layout to improve safety. There’s an interesting fact sheet here.

I’ve been fascinated by the management of large projects for a long time, and am jolly keen to get into the industry and discover for myself what it is like. This opportunity appears to be an awesome chance to get stuck in and get an insight into what goes on in a moderate sized infrastructure project. From a surveying perspective, this project is small enough to get a taste of all facets of the project, while being big enough to include sizeable components of earthworks, roading, drainage and structures (bridges). This means that, in terms of building experience in this scene, it would be difficult to find anything better.

I’ll be honest, the timing of this job sucks. With a baby due in August we know we are lining ourselves up for a stressful, exhausting and full-on few months. Exploring a new city, building new friendships, working longer hours and learning how to be parents will be incredibly demanding. I’m hopeful these months will grow us, but exactly what shape that will take is hard to see now.  Nonetheless, I’m excited about all the changes we’ve got lined up.  If we can pull this off it’ll be awesome!

Changes: Oh Baby!

Well it’s time to introduce the readers of the site to a couple of the major changes that will be happening in my world over the coming months. I’ve always sought to live an exciting and adventure-filled life, and that is definitely what my life is becoming!

Basically, life changing thing number one is that Paula and I are expecting our first kid to arrive on the scene in late August. We’re getting in on the long, crazy, roller-coaster ride that is parenting. It’s been quite a surreal few months, trying to come to grips with the fact that in a few short weeks we are actually going to be a family.

I’m excited about the things I’ll learn, the ways I’ll grow and the playfulness I’ll discover as I seek to be the best dad I can be. I’m hopeful that as I learn to put my pride aside and throw myself into discovering this world again through new eyes, I’ll discover new ways of being awed by this world, humanity and all that it encompasses.

In the midst of these thoughts I’m trying not to get too idealistic about how things are going to look over the next few months. It’s a confusing, paradoxical picture painted by people trying to describe what having kids is like; tiring yet energizing; draining yet fulfilling, the worst period of your life yet the best thing you can do. I’m facing something mysterious, unknown and even scary, but hoping it will be the crucible that produces gold.

I’ve no doubt my thoughts on this process will work their way onto the blog here semi-frequently, so consider yourself warned!

Have Big Dreams, Not Big Plans

A few off the cuff thoughts on the difference between dreams and plans…

Dreams are a sketch.
Plans are a blueprint.

Dreams expand horizons.
Plans constrict options.

Dreams stay consistent through time.
Plans can be thwarted by unpredictable events.

Dreams guide decisions.
Plans cause fear of uncertainty.

Dreams don’t depend on anything.
Plans depend on factors outside of your control.

Three Cardinal Relationships

Relationships, friendships, networks. Whatever you want to call them, they have a huge bearing on your enjoyment of life. I will dare to suggest, though, that only three of them will truly make or break your life. These three relationships hold the potential to make life a joyous adventure or a terrible drudgery. When your life nears it’s end, whether you reminisce with contented satisfaction or woeful regrets will be decided in large part by the way you conducted these friendships.

God

Belief in a God that can be described as a person, who actually takes an interest and wants to be involved in the lives of mere humans is, i guess, quite peculiar in today’s society. Nonetheless I am absolutely convinced that this can be the greatest source of satisfaction over a lifetime. When facing death, I think it is possible to have a deep sense of contentment, having pursued a friendship with the very one who created you and is, in a way, calling you home. On the other hand, I can’t begin to imagine the dark fear and doubts that could creep in when you haven’t given time to think about this important relationship.

Your Spouse

They’re your best friend, most loyal companion, and have made a sincere commitment to stick by your side through everything that you encounter in life. It makes sense then, that if this relationship is vibrant, dynamic and life-giving, the positive effects will echo throughout a lifetime. Conversely, a marriage that stifles fun, creativity, and joy will wear you down over a lifetime, and the pain of divorce leaves scars that I doubt ever heal completely.

Your Kids

Whether you like it or not, your kids will play a huge role in your life. And whether your kids are a source of joy and happiness, or stress and worry, comes down largely to the decisions you make. I’m not (yet) qualified to say much more than this, beyond the fact that this is a very scary and motivational thought for me.

I’ll dare to say that all other friendships, while very important, pale in comparison to these fundamental connections. No other relationships have quite the same lifetime implications as these, and hence they deserve particular attention.

What are your thoughts? Am I wrong? Do you have other relationships that you consider of paramount importance?

Book Review: This Momentary Marriage

I’ve often wondered about what actually happens when you get married. Emotionally and mentally, you are just as committed the day before your wedding as the day after, and intellectually you probably know just as much about your partner before and after you tie the knot. Yet for all the similarities, something profound changes when the celebrant says “I pronounce you man and wife.” The existing commitment suddenly seems to be deeper and more profound, and the physical boundaries that were in place are suddenly removed. The weird thing, to me, is that the only thing that really changes is the relationship’s legal status, now there is a legal document to give evidence to a real and beautiful emotional connection. It has often struck me as odd why, in God’s eyes, such a legal action has such profound implications for the ‘rightness’ of something so mysterious and intangible as relationships.

In this book, John Piper takes aim at such fundamental questions of what marriage is, what its for and why its important. If you’re looking for a practical book with tips for improving your marriage this is not it. Piper’s stated goal is to “enlarge your vision of what marriage is,” and I think he actually does a pretty good job.

A lot of the ideas in this book stem from this word ‘covenant-keeping.’ “Staying married…is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant,” is how Piper bluntly puts it. This concept of covenant (being a form of legal agreement) isn’t new to me, but this book takes the idea and expands and explains it in a way that is compelling and thought provoking.

In this book, Piper seeks to unpack how the beauty of marriage is not in the lovey-dovey feelings, but in the way it is a living metaphor to a broken world of the ever greater covenant between Jesus Christ and the Church. “Ultimately, marriage is a flesh-and-blood drama of how Christ (dramatized by the husband) loves his church, and how the church (dramatized by the wife) is devoted to Christ.” One of the most intriguing ideas that stem from this is that “Marriage is a pointer toward the glory of Christ and the church. But in the resurrection the pointer vanishes into the perfection of that glory.” Piper goes on to unpack how living out this metaphor works itself out in the roles of husband and wife, with children and with society in general.

If I’m honest, I didn’t actually enjoy the process reading this book. It often seemed overly theoretical and, when it came to discussing the metaphor of Christ and the Church, I was too quick to think ‘oh yep I’ve heard this before.’ That said, the themes and ideas of this book have been playing on my mind a lot since I read it, and as I reflect on it I’m realising just how profound it all is. On reflection, then, I would recommend this book to people wanting to expand their understanding of marriage, and all that it encompasses. John Piper is thorough in unpacking the implications of what the Bible says about marriage, making this a worthy resource to have.