Beyond the Map – Now that’s living!

23 Jan

Here’s a little insight into what makes me ‘tick’… and why this blog is named “Beyond the Map”.

Years ago, I watched an IMAX documentary of Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition up the Missouri River, to the Pacific Ocean and back.  I was struck to my core with what seemed a very innocuous quote from Lewis and Clark’s journal.  It reverberated so loudly inside me, that I’ve never forgotten it. 

In the early part of their expedition, they had followed the crude maps of the frontier fur traders.  But about half way up the Missouri, their continuing exploration took them beyond the maps.  On that day Lewis’ journal reads:

“We were now about to penetrate a country… in which the foot of civilized man had never trodden… the good or evil it had in store for us was yet to determine… I could esteem this moment of my departure among the most happy of my life.” – (Lewis & Clark expedition – 1805)

Strangely, upon hearing that quote, I could hardly compose myself.  I recognized that his sentiment rang synonymous with the basic drive at the core of my being.  And it is:

I must go where I’ve never been… discover what I’ve never seen.  I’m a pioneer!

The only way I can stay truly alive is to push beyond the familiar.  In fact, for several years I’ve publicly declared that each time I’m ‘in the saddle’ with God (whether privately or in public) I purpose to do something I’ve never done before.  I’ve resolved to explore what I haven’t seen and experienced before.  Furthermore, if there is a sense that others are dependant upon my discoveries in this new territory, then my motivation is fueled in a most fulfilling and empowering way.  Of course, this is the basic drive of a pioneer… a frontiersman.  (I write further about pioneers, here.)

Somewhere in my 40s I began to identify some of this unique definition of ‘me’.  It would have been great to know it sooner, but by-and-large our society doesn’t educate us on how to find ourselves.  I think that’s largely because most people are consumed with the age-old quest of trying to stay alive and survive.  As a result, our real identity doesn’t get highlighted and thus we don’t thrive.  And maybe because of being fraught with insecurities we just try to awkwardly blend in with the cookie-cutter crowd mentality… not ‘rocking the boat’.  So, I think it’s safe to say that most people never discover who they are… and how to be effective, passionate and ‘comfortable in their own skin’.  What a travesty!  Here are a couple sad commentaries about average mankind:

“Man.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – The 14th Dalai Lama

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”  ― J.K. Rowling

Twenty-eight months after setting out and risking life and limb, Lewis and Clark arrived back at St. Louis, ending an 8,000-mile odyssey.  They were acclaimed as national heroes…the first U.S. citizens to cross the continent.  Lewis had described at least 178 plants and 122 animals new to science.  Clark had drawn new and accurate maps that would guide the next generation of pioneers.  This is what pioneers do!  Their God-given core motivation was activated and engaged to the full extent… even to the ragged edge.  Even when knowing the life-endangering rigors of the journey before them, they had passionately said “Yes!” to the mission, because their personal DNA was addressed and called upon.

This ‘awakened living’ is part of the outworking of Jesus’ words, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  When men and women discover who they were meant to be, they excel… and they do it gladly and passionately.  They discover what it means to truly live.


Of course there’s a potential fear factor.  But fear disappears when two things occur.  1) First we must know that God is good!  And He only has good plans for us.  2) Second, we must know that we have definitively heard His will.  It is impossible to have true Biblical faith if we haven’t HEARD (Rms 10:17).  Without hearing, fear rules.

Another pioneering explorer Columbus, sailed the ocean blue in 1492 when it was commonly thought that the earth was flat.  This whimsical depiction of the flat world sorely challenged the average boatman in his day.  But obviously, Columbus’ deep pioneer motivations drove him past his fears… and on to make historical discoveries that have changed mankind forever.  SO CAN WE!

Here are questions I ask myself: What fears attempt to keep me imprisoned in my ‘safe’ world?  What discoveries wait beyond the map?  Whose hearts need my discoveries?  What great things have happened each time I’ve decided to really live?

So now you know; in order for me to stay alive… and thrive, I’m committed and impassioned to go, “Beyond the Map”.


10 Responses to “Beyond the Map – Now that’s living!”

  1. GRAY HOPE MISSIONARY January 23, 2017 at 1:27 PM #

    Love this! It’s a perfect snap shot of an often unaddressed aspect of missionary motivation.

    • Mark Hendrickson January 23, 2017 at 1:44 PM #

      Brian and Cathy
      Yes, why else would a person leave all things secure to go where nothing is sure?!?! Something deep inside compels and inspires to discover and conquer and pour our lives into others. The advancement of The Kingdom!!!
      Blessings to you both as you walk on your new lands… and on your high places… and secure hearts for eternity.

  2. Mel Wild January 23, 2017 at 2:17 PM #

    Yes! That’s me to a tee. 🙂 I don’t like being confined to my “maps.” No growth no life. Yes, it can get wild and woolly but the thrill of the adventure with Jesus at the helm is total joy and fulfillment. My fear of failure, or “missing it,” is massively overcome by His abiding love!

    • Mark Hendrickson January 25, 2017 at 8:48 PM #

      Yeh, us fellow pioneers gotta speak into each other’s lives. Our exploring might lead us up a box canyon once in a while, but I’m betting that we’re finding some great new routes through this uncharted territory. Onward, Ho!!!!

  3. David McDermott January 23, 2017 at 6:25 PM #

    Really inspiring Mark. It reminds me of this sentence about Abraham (or Abram!) from Hebrews 11:8: “…even though he did not know where he was going.”

    Thank you God for men and women of faith who are great examples of discovering and conquering and pouring their lives into others.


    • Mark Hendrickson January 25, 2017 at 8:49 PM #

      When we’re beyond the map, the only way to be secure is be ‘tight’ with the One who is secure. He’s the best Leader!!!

  4. dawnlizjones January 23, 2017 at 6:28 PM #

    “Whose hearts need my discoveries?” This is even more important than the desire for personal fulfillment if you know what I mean. Living God’s abundant life intended for me isn’t just about “me”….

    • Mark Hendrickson January 25, 2017 at 8:53 PM #

      A sign of maturity… babies cry for their binky. But mature sons and daughters are gripped with vision and desire to bring others with them. They know that doing Father’s business… and giving their lives away… is the way to abundant life!!! You go, Sis!

  5. Judy & Jerry January 26, 2017 at 8:11 AM #

    Thank you Mark for being a front line player or to use your word a Pioneer!! Blessings and Love, Jerry & Judy

    • Mark Hendrickson January 26, 2017 at 10:08 AM #

      It’s so fun running with a company of believers who want to go beyond the map. Now that’s high adventure… that’s living!!!
      Mucho blessings!

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