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We are in the middle of celebrating Easter. Our children think that Easter is all about chocolate eggs and rabbits, but of course it is really about something far deeper and stronger. Good Friday is called ‘good’ because it celebrates the death of Jesus Christ on a cruel cross and Easter Sunday is a celebration of his resurrection. Many people think of Jesus as effeminate, or as Larry Norman said, ‘a guy who has recently had his nails done!’
Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was a man’s man. Edwin Louis Cole said that ‘manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous’. John Eldridge, author of ‘Wild at Heart’ www.ransomedheart.com, a best seller all around the world, articulates the cry coming from a man’s heart for spiritual reality. I’ll let John Eldridge tell you in his own words:
Eve was created within the lush beauty of Eden’s garden. But Adam, if you’ll remember, was created outside the Garden, in the wilderness. In the record of our beginnings, the second chapter of Genesis makes it clear: Man was born in the outback, from the untamed part of creation. Only afterward is he brought to Eden. And ever since then boys have never been at home indoors, and men have had an insatiable longing to explore. We long to return; it’s when most men come alive. As John Muir said, when a man comes to the mountains, he comes home. The core of a man’s heart is undomesticated and that is good. “I am not alive in an office,” as one Northface ad has it. “I am not alive in a taxi cab. I am not alive on a sidewalk.” Amen to that. Their conclusion? “Never stop exploring.”. . ..
And so my boys and I stood on the bank of the Snake River in the spring of ’98, feeling that ancient urge to shove off. Snow melt was high that year, unusually high, and the river had overflowed its banks and was surging through the trees on both sides. Out in the middle of the river, which is crystal clear in late summer but that day looked like chocolate milk, logs were floating down, large tangles of braches bigger than a car, and who knows what else. High and muddy and fast, the Snake was forbidding. No other rafters could be seen. Did I mention it was raining? But we had a brand-new canoe and the paddles were in hand and, sure, I have never floated the Snake in a canoe, not any other river for that matter, but what the heck, We jumped in and head off into the unknown, like Livingstone plunging into the interior of dark Africa.
Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man, The masculine heart needs a place where nothing is prefabricated, modular, non-fat, zip unlock, franchised, on-line, microwavable. Where there are no deadlines, cell phones, or committee meetings. Where there is room for the soul. Where, finally, the geography around us corresponds to the geography of our heart. Look at the heroes of the biblical text: Moses does not encounter the living God at the mall. He finds him (or is found by him) somewhere out in the deserts of Sinai, a long way from the comforts of Egypt. The same is true of Jacob, who has his wrestling match with God not on the living room sofa but in a wadi somewhere east of the Jabbok, in Mesopotamia. Where did the great prophet Elijah go to recover his strength? To the wild. As did John the Baptist, and his cousin, Jesus, who is led by the spirit into the wilderness.
Whatever else those explorers were after, they were also searching for themselves. Deep in a man’ heart are some fundamental questions that simply cannot be answered at the kitchen table. Who am I? What am I made of? What am I destined for? It is fear that keeps a man at home where things are neat and orderly and under his control. But the answers to his deepest questions are not to be found on television or in the refrigerator. Out there on the burning desert sands, lost in a trackless waste, Moses received his life’s mission and purpose. He is called out, called up into something much bigger than he ever imagined, much more serious that CEO or ‘prince of Egypt.’ Under foreign stars, in the dead of night, Jacob received a new name, his real name. No longer is he a shrewd business negotiator, but now he is one who wrestles with God. The wilderness trial of Christ is, at its core, a test of his identity. ‘If you are who you think you are . . .’ If a man is ever to find out who he is and what he’s here for, he has got to take that journey for himself.
He has got to get his heart back.
Tell your children the real story of Easter. Explain to them that only a real man could say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do!” with nails driven though both hands and both feet.
Yours for getting our hearts back
PS. Check out the Courageous Action Appeal which is all about encouraging Dads to consider living for a cause that is greater than them. Yes become a great Dad yourself for your own children’s sake, but why not at the same time commit to helping other Dads become great Dads too. Scientific evidence shows the best way to learn is to teach others.