Heroic Journey: The Wilderness Pt. 1

Post by Jared Hartenstein
After discussing adventure from 30,000 feet in our last series, we are now looking at the
 process of adventure. Each of our adventures consists of three stages: 
the Call, the Wilderness, and the Return.  
If you missed the previous weeks, check them out here.

Wandering in the Wilderness

When we accept the call to adventure, we are immediately thrust into the Wilderness (Heb. 12:7-11, Deut. 8:2-11). This is the second stage of our adventure, where God’s transformation in us begins. It is where we allow the Father to deconstruct our smaller stories and reconstruct us as the sons and daughters He created us to be, giving us life to the full in His greater story. Through trial by fire, we come to know who we are, why we are here, where we belong, and how to live life well. Even though the wilderness helps bring about the greatest transformation, it tests our will and commitment to the adventure. If we are to follow through to the end, we will have to detach, or intentionally separate from the life we live, the way we operate, and the smaller story we write (Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 5:17). As we begin to detach from our old way of life, we meet our first enemy on the path, the enemy within.

The enemy within is the false voice within, the flesh, and imposter that causes us to question our identity and choices along the path, creating the INNER turmoil that pressures us to turn back from the adventure to the smaller story we were living (Rom. 7:14-25). If we are not careful, we will listen to the enemy within and wander in the wilderness, where we decide to turn back from the adventure because it is too hard and dangerous, seemingly impossible (Gal. 5:7-8). We fall back into our old mindsets and methods, leading to a life of self-preservation where we live on our own terms, and community becomes irrelevant. We calibrate life to an imposter and live lonely lives that end in discouragement, despair, and dissatisfaction. But again, the call to adventure will not be silent; the yearning for life will not stop. Beautifully, our Heavenly Dad provides a way out of our situation, but we must choose to let Him write our stories and answer our questions; we have to choose to battle through the Wilderness…

Stories around the Fire

When I decided to answer the call to return to Ohio, I called my dad on the phone, and we talked through what I felt the Father said. We continued to pray about it, and when we both felt at peace about the decision, we talked about the next steps. But, I never prayed about the next steps. You see, I continued to operate with a mindset of fear, believing that the only way my parents would allow me to return to Ohio was by continuing school because college was supposed to be the next step in life. I compared my journey to those around me, not seeing that our stories don’t ever look the same. In comparison, without college, people would see me as a failure. From this way of operating, I began to wander, never asking my Father about applying for any college. Instead, I assumed it was the next move. I applied to Cedarville University and got accepted rather easily, thinking that was more or less “a sign.” My plan: live from home, go to school, work for TNF, and whatever else I have time for, I have time for (which was nothing).

 I began attending Cedarville University in January of 2020. At the time, my dad invited me to a huddle, and knowing I needed a good community, I attended, not knowing the Father’s plan to thwart my smaller story. The first week, my dad walked us through our plan versus God’s plan and how they usually don’t look the same. When he released us to journal, I felt the holy discontent return. Something wasn’t quite right about the plan I created. I asked my Father, What in my plans is not of you? I assumed I should cut TNF work from my plans to focus more intently on school. Instead, I heard very clearly one word: School. I thought, What?! No way. I am supposed to be there, and the Father amply replied, Are you? I was at a loss of thoughts, but heard the Father say, I never asked you to be there. Let's remove it from the plan. Once again, he called me back into adventure with Him, away from my life of wandering. To step into it, I had to detach from my mindset of believing the “certainty” of school would gratify my need for security and success. Choosing a new path seemed insane, and dropping out for the semester felt sacrilege. The enemy within, my imposter self, caused me to question my every step, but I knew who was calling me despite all the voices. I trusted His Heart, and I decided to battle through the Wilderness…
  • As you step into your adventure, what mindsets and methods do you need to detach from?
  • In what ways are you wandering in the wilderness?
  • In what ways do you compare your story to others? Why? What is the fruit of comparing? 
  • What are some of the ways the enemy within (the flesh) keep you wandering?
  • What do you think it would look like to completely let go of your old mindsets and habits?
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