I wonder if there are not men who are read this blog from time to time, who are living lonely, isolated and frustrating lives, wondering if it is really possible to connect and relate to God on a more personal level. David Benner points out that the deepest yearning in the heart is spiritual. We were made for intimate connection with God. For men this is a hard concept. We prefer to stay on the surface of things. He observes, “Our need for love, connection, and surrender from the spiritul core of our personhood.” There are many “church” men going through the motions of the spiritual life, trying to believe the “spiritual stuff” and do all the right activities expected of them. They just don’t feel they measure up spiritual to their wives and the pastor. They go through steps and starts and then fall back again into a resignation that accepts a kind of “low grade” sense of failure for not being a “spiritual” man.
I have a burden to communicate with men caught in this dilemma. I have know a lot of men like this in my years as a Lutheran pastor. It is only in the last ten years that I feel I have learned how to come alongside these “good, decent and honest” men and be a beacon of encouragement. In my early years of ministry I was guilty of encouraging men to do the right spiritual things, such as pray more and have a devotional time. But the heart and soul of men was not affected. Not until I learned how to experience God at the heart level did my approach with men change. I could not give and share what I had not learned and experienced myself. So I have decided for better or worse to write a series of post entitled “a Father who delight in you” to address this issue. It will be a work in progress. I know what I want to say, but saying it in written form is the challenge for me. So if there is anyone reading this blog who is being helped, give me a “heads up” so I know I am not “whistling in the dark.”
The first thing I would say from my own experience, is “relax.” If you are a man who has trusted Christ as your savior, then you have God’s presence within you not just with you. It is as simple as that. You don’t have to earn your way, you don’t have to “be more spiritual” or be more deserving. Greater intimacy and awareness of God in your life is all gift and grace. Hang unto that truth on your journey. The journey that I am discribing can simply be called “the contemplative way.” Listen again to Romans 8:15-16, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” You need to know that the very presence of God is not just “up there” somewhere or “around you”, but He lives within you. We are talking about what Leanne Payne calls “incarnational reality.” Jesus said the He and the Father would come to make their home in us. “My Father will love them. and we will come and make our home with each of them” (John 14:23). It could not be any clear. God is in you. That is of first importance.
So this means, men, that you do not have to do anything more about the indwelling presence of God in your life. You are united with Christ at the center. He is present at the deepest level of your being. He is at the core, the very darkest place of your soul. He knows you through and through (read Psalm 139). It has all been give to you. New, abundant, glorious life in God. The liberating presence of the one who say “I delight in you” dwells at the center. Don’t let go of that reality. At the center is love. You have all you need with His presence dwelling in you. So what is the problem. The problem is “awareness.” We have not been taught to “see what is there.” That sure was the case for me. I lived a dualistic life for many years as a Christian man. God was out there and I was on the inside with myself. I was more an observer rather than a participate in the life of God. I thought hard about God and did all the “spiritual” stuff to make it real. But I was not making the connections. So the first thing we have to learn how to do is “see” and “receive.” So with that I will leave you till the next post. Pray that somehow my simple, humble posts will help a few guys make the “great and glorious” connection in their own hearts. Hope I have some guys with me. I guess I will see in the days to come.