I just got back from a four day men’s retreat based on the Wild at Heart material called Bootcamp NW.
It’s not like I’m the kind of person who shies away from hyperbole, but the ongoing experience of my interaction with these concepts and these people can hardly be overstated. In many, many ways it’s changed my life. And let me be clear about something because I think it’s critical to understand. I am no John Eldridge groupie, I’m not a shill for some Wild at Heart cult. W@H is just one book among several that have been published in the last ten years or so that deal with similar concepts. Specifically: how should a Christian man look and act in modern America and why are so many of us asleep? So it’s rather gender-specific, in my mind it’s particular to today and I suspect it’s particular to America, or perhaps the west. W@H is only the book that caught my eye – it’s the Colorado colored version of something that I see the Holy Spirit talking to a LOT of people about in a LOT of churches. And the message seems to have real staying power. This message has outlasted at least two other pop-church messages that had more energetic followings, Prayer of Jabez and Purpose Driven Life.
That said, I also recognize that I’ve been guzzling the cool-aid for a while now. Regardless of anything else I know how much this train of thought, this set of tools and terms, has impacted my life and I’m really not very interested in debating the minutiae anymore. To that end, I’ve also become something of a cheerleader. I’ve taught at two miniature versions of this camp myself, I’ve lead small groups (Bands of Brothers is the proper jargon), and continued to explore these themes on this blog. Verily, if it weren’t for what W@H hath wrought (that was fun) I never would have had the nerve or the passion to do half of what I did this last year. I still waffle between thinking that this message would be valuable to every man I know and where it’s only useful to some – so far I can’t quite determine if the guys who don’t get it are resistant in some way or their just the wrong audience. Perhaps that’s not the point anyway. The point is to find that thing – anything – that will light your fire, and I’ve found mine.
So here’s a central theme that really turns my crank. When Christ says that He came to give us life, and life to the full (or life abundantly) when does that abundant life start? If I think that it starts when I’m saved, as opposed to when I die / resurrect, then why are most men in the church asleep, bored, distracted, living the same lives of quiet desperation that the men of the world do? If nothing else, the idea that this war we see described in scripture is 100% REAL and NOW and in my face – and that I might have a functional role to play in that war...now that’s an idea that catches my imagination. But I don’t want to recap the book here – read the book.
Michael – come to Bootcamp in November. I’ll buy your admission if you buy the plane ticket.
Compared to last year, this Bootcamp was less dramatic and more refreshing. God spoke on the same topics we hit last year and it really helped clear my head after a difficult season. In fact, by the time I went this year I was quite tired, quite bummed out, and wondering what the hell went wrong – dark days. Perhaps the best part of this weekend was the chance to gain some perspective. I mean – wow – what a year! It’s so easy to get myopic and only see what our most recent and immediate life has been, but the simple chance to go back over my journal and this blog, all since the last Bootcamp...He surely is my Ebenezer, where else would I go?
The last 12 months have been, without question, the most spiritually active in my life. But they’ve also been some of the most...what to call it...zoeally active? My life, my circumstances, my job – physical world things that can show up on a photograph or a bank statement. Those things too have seen all kinds of activity. Some joyful, some mournful, but all of it ALIVE! And that’s the great thing. I don’t see W@H or the broader movement calling men to ‘better’ lives in the sense of easier, richer, less stressful lives. Quite the opposite. The Spirit is asking men to get up off their asses swing the damn sword. There will victory AND defeat. The invitation is not to safety, but to risk. It’s not increased territory, but to contesting territory. Not to Christian purpose but to true Christian liberty.
I’m told that the Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit The Wild Goose – utterly unpredictable. I hope to spend these next 12 months waking up every day with no idea what will happen because the Wild Goose goes where it will and my job is simple – chase it!