12 March 2006

Imperfect vision

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

There’s something gathering at the edge of my vision – a dim outline of something that still lacks details or texture or color, but it seems to be increasingly vivid in the last few weeks. It’s a vision, I think, of where God will be moving me in the near to mid future, an assignment of sorts. As I’ve started to sense this approaching thing, sniffing for it on the wind, I find myself compelled to make room for it, to prepare for its arrival. For example, after five continuous years of hosting Skaggs Spaghetti Night – we’re calling that to a halt. After too many years of long hours at work, working overtime to get my fledgling business on its feet, I find myself with a fresh commitment to working my day and coming home on time – damn the deadline (which, by the way, has been an unlooked for exercise in simplicity and providence. It’s fascinating how many things actually DON’T need my attention). I’ve been cutting things back, cutting things loose, and deliberately saying no to things that at any other time in my life would have seemed like opportunities.

So as not to seem coy, and retaining my right to say “oops – I was way off” - here’s the shape of what I’m seeing.

  • I’m seeing a group of men - a small group, probably no more than ten.
  • All of them peers, so men of roughly the same age and stage of life.
  • All of them ‘Servants of the Secret Fire’ as Gandalf says – Christians of deep and sincere commitment to our Father and His Son.
  • Men who excel at their profession, who have achieved a degree of success by virtue of the fact that their hearts are truly engaged in their work and the work is truly submitted to God. Whether that be ministry or middle management, potter or policeman – what matters is passion. And I’m not talking about success as the world measures it but rather that spiritual contentment that he is where God placed him and his labor is an offering.
  • These men recognize and accept the burden of leadership that they are called to. They have heard God’s call to their hearts to be bigger – to be more – whether that be leading their own families to God’s throne or leading a nation to the same place, these men know deep in their core that God has called them to more than punching a clock.
  • And this is critical – these men understand that they will study war that their sons might study wisdom. They take up this mantle, this covenant with one another, for the express purpose of making their sons mighty men of God.

It’s a little over the top – I know. But this is what is taking shape in my mind. A group of guys who really take this stuff seriously. Who value brotherhood and community above a promotion that would break this circle. Call it a modern round table. If one can put 1000 to flight, and two can put 10,000 to flight – what can ten men of integrity and honor and courage do?

There’s been a stirring in the church over this very subject, but this isn’t really about ‘the church’ - at least it isn’t about that building you meet in on Sunday. It’s very much about The Body and being very conscious and deliberate about picking up this sword and learning to use it. To become warriors and men of renown – knights.

And not by force of will, but by answering the summons.

This will hurt and be the process of years. This will cost you a great deal – it represents a significant sacrifice - but your life will be saved in the process. More importantly, the lives of your families, your sons in particular, will be rescued form this grey, flat, lifeless thing we’ve come to call modern American life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be truly challenged once in a while? To actually have something actually on the line? To live a life of fullness where neighbors say ‘I want what that guy has. He is so ALIVE!”

And while the core of this thing is about Jesus, it’s not just about prayer. It’s not “Let’s stop to the throne room of heaven brother!” - it’s real live dirt and mud and blood. Learn to fight – for real. Swing a real sword so you know what’s like. We’re talking about life and death here – both spiritual AND physical. We love God with our whole spirit, but also our whole mind and our whole body.

Listen to me :: There will be men who read this post, even men who have never read my blog before, who will understand this call is for them. This idea won’t be new to them – it will be only an articulation of something that has been smoldering in their chests for months, maybe even years. The mind will yell “Yes! That’s it!”

I don’t know where this will go – I’m only trying to be obedient to the call on my heart as I understand it – invite.

And let me also offer this caution.  Many are called, but few are chosen. The immediate invitation is this – come. Yes – I mean move your family, your job, your life. Come if you’re certain of God’s call and I know some of you are. But for many, many others the invitation is different – start something. Ask God about your own group of men that surround you. Surely this invitation is only one of many – there is no shortage of need for men who will step up and swing the bat. This will not bee the only such group to be formed. I have to trust God that He will hand pick the men for this group that he has in mind, but for others, others for whom the idea feels like a tug on their guts, raise a flag and see who salutes.

For me, I’ll wait and see who answers.


Michael said...

I ponder my response to the call. All I can think of is the Oracle in The Matrix, on Neo's ambivalent response to being told he may be the One: "Being the One is like being in love--you just know it, balls to bone."

I suppose that not knowing for certain if you're one of those who know "this call is for them" essentially disqualifies one? Your wording makes it sound as though potential men-at-arms should immediately resonate to this tone, like well-crafted bells that all vibrate to the same note, without hesitation. Do hesitation and uncertainty themselves--the very need to ask the questions in the first place--suggest that the hearer is not cut from the right cloth? Where is the border between thoughtful consideration and disobedient cowardice?

And does that fact that the questions seem so difficult suggest something in itself? Hmmm.....

Silverback said...

Interesting question.

Your example of Neo, who appears to have doubted the whole thing until he's actually killed, suggests that hesitation and uncertainty are par for the course...perhaps in some way - they ARE the course.

That said, I've never known God to force me into anything. Even His most vivid communications leave room for doubt. Jeus asks "If it's possible - let this cup pass." Talk about second thoughts...

matt said...

Thanks for further articulating our conversations. As for me, I'm still in a wrestling match with God over all of this. Pray!