Sunday, July 09, 2006

On a Saturday afternoon late in July of 2004 my cousin Gregg (or "Blues") and I shared some rare time together (he lives in California) walking from our rented cabins near Baraboo, Wisconsin to Devil's Lake, where our family had gathered for a rare family reunion. We were looking for Nina and Devin, his wife and son, who had set out ahead of us.

We walked and talked, enjoying the Wisconsin summer and the beautiful scenery around us, including the lake surrounded by bluffs. Gregg is one of my favorite people, we shared so much growing up together in Marion, and then every chance we could after his family moved to Michigan - we spent many hours of our youth staring up at the sky as we talked, pondering the mysteries of life, so it was only appropriate to revisit that pastime while we had the chance.

A night or so before this we had stayed up late (he later than I) listeneing to BJ recount his first trip to Peru - he had only been back a few days before making the trip up with Deanna to my Dad's hometown. Included in this "conversation" with BJ (we did ask some questions) was the previously shared experience of his very real transformation, spiritually and physically, from childhood into adulthood while preparing for and completing this mission trip. It was that experience that had precipitated the gift of a sword from his parents to mark this significant transition in his life, or "rite of passage" as Dr. Walker Moore aptly refers to it.

Anyway, Gregg and I were sharing about what it means to be "men" in our society, how we attain it and the lack of any real event or ceremony that serves most of us as this point of transition into adulthood. I shared my own feelings of doubt as to whether I had actually ever passed this point, even in my 40's. We talked about some of the associated frustrations - feelings of inadequacy, lack of confidence and a resulting lack or fear of taking on any real leadership role. In looking around at many churches today I am not alone in these shortcomings.

Oh, there are many who talk about becoming men after their first sexual conquest or visit to a bar, but anyone is capable of these things - there is no real significance to them in terms of who we really are. Anyone can choose to act on physical impulses or social pressures, there is no special ability or depth of character needed to do so. And chronology really means little as we mature at much different rates - if we ever do.

Gregg and I didn't solve the world's problems in our youth or on that walk - we didn't even find Nina and Devin as I recall, but we had a valuable time of sharing honestly with one another our doubts, concerns and dreams and that was very important to me.

As Biblical Christians, I believe we recognized that the answer, or key, is more of a spiritual one than a physical one; a spiritually intellectual transformation (does that make sense?) more than a chronological one; or in BJ's words (and remember he was the youngest on his team):

"For too long I haven't really been able to take myself seriously, and only saw myself as a boy, and was just a boy. Through being in the drama (the primary method of drawing people in to share the gospel with during his trip with AweStar), feeling still like the little kid standing in for someone, and through just seeing my actions, I realized I was just a boy, and couldn't see myself or believe myself to be on a mission trip, much less lead as I know God has called me to. So, during worship, I prayed that God would transform me up to lead as a man."
- excerpt from his mission journal as he prepared for his trip with Awe Star

I Corinthians 13:11 says that "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me."

Lord, help me take to heart what BJ did at 14 - that with a faith that remains childlike to put my faith and trust wholly at your feet, and let me accept your outstretched hands and follow your lead, overcoming all of my childish fears. In Jesus' Holy name, Amen.

God bless,


P.S. My apologies to Walker Moore - I need to read your book!


At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No apologies needed, you hit it on the head. I am thankful for your faithfulness to keep the blog going.


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