Think of a time and a place where everything is right.
Nothing is out of place. All is well. All is good. Perfection. Got it locked in?
What do you see in your mind’s eye?
Now I would love to hear where you fit in that picture. Are you the highlight? Somewhere on the side? Or do you even belong in the scene at all?
The Bible describes such a scene in the beginning. God has just created everything and declared everything to be good.
And not good in the sense that it’s a little less than great, and two steps behind awesome, but rather “good” in the absolute sense of the word. More like perfect. Exactly like it is supposed to be.
And it has a person in it named Adam. But then the story takes a little twist. God notices something disturbing; something that’s not right, not good, and what I truly find amazing is that God notices it before anyone else: Adam is alone.
God takes a keen interest in this issue of aloneness, and prescribes an amazing solution: belonging.
He makes a partner for Adam. Someone who will belong with him, and he will belong with her. Together, they will engage in the rest of God’s mission for them.
And God doesn’t stop there. He continues to make promises like, “I will be their God and they will be my people…” (Jer. 31:33) and “I will not lose any that the Father has given me…” (Jn. 6:39).
We were created to belong.
This is why for Quest, belonging is not a sideline issue. It can’t be. We do go on some wild adventures and spend some serious time in academics, but we long for much more than a year of fun and facts.
Which is why we do these things together.
Quite a few years ago now, my brother and I quit our jobs, bought motorbikes, and hit the road for a five-month adventure. Three months into the trip, he met “the girl of his dreams” and opted out of the rest of the trip (Side note: they did end up getting married and now they have 3 kids…so no hard feelings!). But that left me on my own. Which, honestly, for a while was really good.At that point in my life I needed some space to think and reflect and figure things out with God. I needed time away from the noise to get focused.
But there came a day, driving down route 101 on the Oregon and California coastline, between glimpsing the endless ocean, weaving the towering redwoods, cruising the cliff edges, catching tastes of the miracles of life… and I remember seeing something that caused me to blurt out the words, “Woah! Look at that!” It was in the moments of silence that followed that I became keenly aware that there was no one around. No one to share the moment with. No one to care. And I finally realized the truth of what God had addressed all those years ago: I was not made to be alone.
People come to Quest from all sorts of situations.
Some have experienced a deep sense of belonging with their families, friends, and places they have been. We love celebrating that. Others have felt out of place and cast out for their entire lives, sometimes not even feeling at home in their own skin. We love engaging with that too. Or if you’re like me, life has been a mixture of both.
Jesus extends an open invitation: “…whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt. 12:50). Family now involves a choice. We’ve all been invited, and there’s an RSVP at the end. There’s a seat at the feast waiting just for me, and one for you too.
The cups have our names engraved on them.
We didn’t earn our way in and we don’t have to worry about getting forgotten or left out.
In a very real sense, our names are our entry tickets. We come not as guests welcomed to observe, but as children of the King, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. We have been saved from isolation, and saved to community. Even when we leave to go wherever God calls us next, we still belong. We are still members. Our identities are secure.
So when people come to Quest, it may be the first time everyone meets in person, but it is more than just the chance meeting of strangers; it is the reunion of long-lost family members.
And it is amazing what a year of adventuring, learning, and serving together can do to bring a family together!
Matthew Kliever is the Quest Associate. He’s an alum of Quest and Columbia Outdoor Leadership program.