There is a lack of “soul care” for men in the church. More time is spent on the boundaries or circumference of our lives – thinking, managing, and trying to address issues in the church. Instead of aiming at the soul, however, we tinker with religious performance, programs and activities. I join the voices crying out in our contemporary spiritual wilderness for men to pay attention to their souls. This involves the “inner journey” to the center. It is a call to what Augustine and Calvin called “the double knowledge” of “knowing God and knowing ourselves.”
Moses sent 12 spies, one from each tribe, to explore the Promised Land and come back with a report. Ten spies came back with the majority report, saying, “The people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and very strong. We even saw descendants of Anak [giants] there” (Num. 13:28). As a result, they, “spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored” (Num. 13:32).
The people complained, “Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller that we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky; we even saw the Anakites there'” (Deut. 1:28). Moses pleaded with them, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place” (Deut. 1:29-31).
Caleb and Joshua, however, brought back a minority report. After quieting the people, Caleb declared, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Num. 13:30). Joshua then declared to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good … do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. “Do not be afraid of them” (Num. 14:7-9). Because of their positive report, God declared Caleb and Joshua would survive the plague that brought death to the 10 spies who brought back the bad report.
My concern is that we are paying too much attention to a majority report about “giants” in the land. For men, many of our giants are not without but within: overeating, addictions, sexual fantasy, pornography, fear, shame, inner wounds, etc. I think you get the idea.
These are the giants we need to face and defeat. But we need groups of men who believe in “soul care.” We cannot conquer these inner giants alone. This battle takes time. It will be a process. We need brothers to stick with us as we face the giants.
Concerning the Israelites who believed the majority report, God said, “Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land…”(Num. 14:23-24). I pray that you will join me in striving to be a Caleb. Men need encouragement, not to flee from or deny their inner giants, but to be willing to fight the good fight with other brothers.
Suggested application: Seek out that kind of group – and don’t quit till you find it.