First the recommendation:
One of our group, Jason H., is a gifted musician and songwriter. He’s recording some stuff in Memphis right now. You can check out his stuff on myspace here.
It’s all good, but “The Company I Keep” is a recent fav of mine.
A slight warning … his lyrics and music are very honest and real about struggles. Christians sometimes don’t like the depth of honesty, but I like it.
Okay, and an answer.
Steve F. left a question on comments in the last post. Some may wonder why I answer these questions in another post, but it is usually for two reasons. I don’t usually read comments after I leave one, so that’s a little egocentric of me. Second, my answers are so stupid long I might as well just post it.
So read the comment if you want and I’ll answer here …
There is something manly to me about risk taking. Now, that doesn’t mean that all risk taking is healthy or even right, but laying it all out on the line, things you talk about that deal with total commitment, is something that should define us.
Even the basic principle of following Christ is as extreme as you can get. That is why I love the T-shirt you guys came up with in Korea, “Jesus first, safety second.” That is the best motto to go by in any and every situation. It will serve you well now and in eternity.
So let me encourage you that risk-taking, extreme ventures are good, right, and healthy when done in the right context. Following Christ and being holy falls under this, so is being a good husband and father and loving the Body of Christ with your whole heart. This all takes total commitment and ultimate sacrifice, as you well know.
When we get into other things, I think they are valid, as well, but “living on the edge” must be tempered with discernment.
I’m going to take Peter as an example. It was his willingness to do whatever he had to do that made him get out of that boat and walk towards Jesus on the water. It was also his extreme personality that cut off an ear and got rebuked.
But I think God is okay with that. Didn’t he give Peter the keys to the kingdom? I don’t mean he made him a pope type person, but it was Peter that was charged with “feeding my sheep” and then was an instrumental leader in the early Church.
People who are willing to do what no one else will do are capable of seeing what no one else will see.
Not that God is okay with disobedience. He’s not. It’s just that the Kingdom of God is a narrow road specifically because of how difficult it is, not because there are theologies or doctrines unlearned but because of personal conveniences and selfish motives people aren’t willing to lay down.
Risk takers are in a prime position to be tempered and led to great heights. The tempering is never meant to completely domesticate us, however, only to get us in a position where we are laying it all down in obedience to him and his voice, not anything else, not a paradigm, not a structure, not an organization, not another man’s teaching, nothing else.
I believe all true followers of Christ are, by nature, maladjusted. They just don’t fit in this world. ML King had a great article about being “maladjusted” to racism. I’m speaking of this world and the flesh. Those who are born of the Spirit are “like the wind, no one knows where they come from or where they are going”. They seem unstable and even misdirected at times, but with confidence in Christ you don’t need formulas and safe paradigms to prove you are on the right track.
In the context of physical exremes, like mountain biking or bungee jumping (yeah, baby), I think these things can be very healthy outlets for manly men and a great opportunity for men to get and stay connected. I’m more of a sports type (like basketball) than outdoorsy, but there is something in it about men doing these things together that bond them as brothers. And there’s nothing wrong with it. The only problem I could see is if your fellowship with others is based on a preference for type of physical activity than just loving the fellowship itself.
For example, I’d rather go on a hike or camp with the guys (or others) so we can fellowship, love on one another, and enjoy one another, than not do it just because it’s “not my thing.” I’m not big in that kind of stuff, but if it is with the Body of Christ and focused on becoming more intimate with them, I never regret it.
Also, so much of our lives are sedentary and inactive, that physical labor or activity is good for the body, mind, and yes, I think the spirit as well. Jesus wasn’t an intellectual. He was a carpenter. David, Moses, and Abraham were shepherds. I’m not saying this is perfectly clear or laid out as a specific teaching in scripture, but I feel there is some truth to it.
Having a wife that supports you and your “extremes” is a treasure beyond measure. I know because I have one, too. Having a fellowship of believers that calls you to extremes of loving God and loving one another is a blessing that you should thank God for every day. Many on your path have neither of them, but they are invaluable.
So now that I’ve rambled a while, I’ll share a couple things with you personally, Steve, in the hopes that it encourages others as well. Most of this you know, but I’ll repeat it to you anyway.
Life is about seasons. God is tempering you, like I said. I’ve been there. You know how similar we are. It is the most frustrating thing in the world. But on the other side of this tempering is a man who will lay it all down and speak the truth in fire and obey the very heart of God. You will still go to the extremes but it won’t be for the rush, it will be in obedience. You will still say shocking and deeply true things, but it will have an authority on it that wasn’t there before.
Don’t take God’s discipline as a condemnation but a commendation. He’s not putting you through it to be mean or because he doesn’t like you. You’re farther along than you think. Not many could handle it. You are a blessing to me, and always have been. And I look forward to the even greater blessing you will be in the future because you’re in God’s hands.
And know you always have a home with us.
If there is something specific you feel you need to “go for”, then by all means, go for it! Let me recommend a great little book called The Barbarian Way by McManus. I loved it. It inspired me to “make my calling and election sure.”