Tuesday, November 3, 2009
This last weekend was an event. A moment in time and space where God showed up. It was again wonderful to watch the light switch come on as men begin to learn what we were created for…a life of freedom, real life and consequence. My first boot camp was in the spring of this year, April to be precise. A couple of my friends…brothers now…Paul and Rob would not leave me alone about attending. So, I went. I went for several reasons. I went because my brothers pressed me into the heart of Christ and pursued me and I went because I was thirsty for more in life. The first one was a shock to my system, a blow upside the head. I was shocked into quiet by the crashing of His presence and love into my life in a blazing, fresh way. Jesus showed up that weekend in April and told me that He had something for me to do, He wanted to set me free to live the life He had for me. I didn’t really know what to do with that. I mean, the church never told me that Christ came to set me free. The church told me to be good, be dutiful, to follow the rules, not rock the boat. Jesus showed up and said, “Hey dude, wake up! I came for you to have real life, to follow in freedom, to get up off your butt and live!” And, so this journey began. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the things He has been leading me into but the ride has been good. Bumpy, yes…rocky, yes…frustrating, yes…fulfilling beyond words!So, this past weekend was the fall Outpost Boot Camp. I invited my dad to come along on this one…my earthly dad that is. I’ll be honest, I was a bit surprised when he agreed to come. Surprised but delighted. I was a bit apprehensive actually. I was looking forward to it because I wanted my dad to see what I was passionate about, what had set me on fire. I wanted him to be able to experience the freedom that I had felt. Not that I think my father isn’t free, I just personally feel he has been tied down at times by “the church”. I was also a bit nervous cause this time, my dad was going to watch me in a leadership role…I was a group leader this time.Lemme just get into that for a minute. I truly don’t feel qualified to lead men in this…well, I didn’t. Then, Jesus told me I was qualified and I needed to put up or shut up because He was capable and, through Him, so was I. What could I do except follow Him, obey, pour myself out? See, it’s time for me to surrender my fear, time for me to embrace the gifts He gave me and intends for me to use, time for me to stop offering excuses and step up to the plate. So, here I was, nervous about that but knowing that God was going to show up. And, brother, did He. I think I actually learned more this weekend than in April. April was a shock to my system…this weekend was a teaching time, a time for Him to embrace me, to begin to Father me in a new way.Friday night was a very emotional night for me. It’s sort of difficult for me to describe it actually but I’ll try. I want to share this because it was so meaningful and personal, illustrating to me that God loves me individually and personally. He showed me again how much He loves me. After one of the evening sessions, my dad and I were standing in the dining hall talking. During our conversation..and I don’t even remember the exact words…my dad became emotional, as did I. As I was walking away from him to join my small group, he reached up, squeezed my shoulder and said, “I’m proud of you.” I was overwhelmed. I walked away from my dad and got about two feet away from him when the tears came. See, in that moment, God spoke to me, fathered me. I saw His smile, felt His touch and heard His voice in the words of my earthly father, “You are my son and I am proud of you.” I was a mess, I was sobbing at the beauty, the tenderness, the vulnerability of that moment. My small group, recognizing that I had something to deal with, gave me the opportunity to go back and speak with my father, rather than join in immediately. So, I pulled my dad out of his group and we had a moment that will always ache with feeling for me, no matter how long I live. We shared an embrace, tears. That moment with my dad…and my Father…will live forever in my mind and heart. God spoke to me in the embrace of my dad, in the tears we shed together, in the words from his heart, “I’m proud of you.”Saturday was another day of lessons, another opportunity for God to speak to me. During the afternoon, my dad and I were walking around the camp facility together, chatting and chilling. We came to the climbing wall. We were just kinda hanging out, then somebody (probably me) starting talkin’ trash about racing my dad up the wall. He didn’t respond the way I thought he would. He looked at me and said, “Let’s do it.” Now, I had to put up or shut up. So, we strapped on the harness and the safety ropes and here we went. About halfway up, I knew I was in trouble. Dad was smokin’ me up this wall. I got about three quarters of the way up and quite frankly, locked up. I felt a rush of fear that kinda paralyzed me for a few seconds. I got taken out in that moment by my fear. My dad, on the other hand, was up that wall like a friggin’ spider monkey. Another lesson learned there…Jesus said He goes before us to prepare a place, show us the way without fear. He takes us on a journey and sometimes has to go ahead of us to say, ‘See, it’s not so bad, don’t be afraid. You can do it.’ Well, I didn’t do it. I stopped and dad beat me, handily I might add, to the top. So, we rappelled back down the wall. Here’s where it gets good. We go to the bottom. Literally, before he even got the rope off, the first thing my dad did was walk over to me and wrap me up in a big hug. He smiled at me and said, “That was fun. Let’s do it again, you want to?” Wow.See, that’s just like Jesus. In the moment of truth, we’re climbing the wall of whatever it is that’s going on in our lives…there is a challenge before us. Never doubt that He is there with us in that moment. He goes before us, comes alongside us, encourages us on. In that moment when we feel the fear, maybe like me we are frozen by our fear, Christ doesn’t get mad, doesn’t ridicule, doesn’t embarrass us. With a smile on His face, He wraps His arms around us and says, “That was fun. Let’s do it again.” See, the point is not whether or not we fail but if we try, if we fight, if we stay in there. Don’t let the wall beat you and never doubt that He is with you, coaching you, guiding you, fathering you with a smile on His face and a warm embrace.