Luke 8:22-25, "Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
A story is told of the naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir. An avid adventurer and explorer John Muir was noted for his willingness to experience nature in its most profound expressions. While staying at a friend's cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California a storm came in off the sea. The clouds moving in were ominous and held the promise of a great deal of moisture and with that very ferocious winds. It would have been very assuring to have a well-built cabin, a large supply of wood for the accommodating fireplace, and the supply of needs to weather out a storm of this magnitude. All this was available, there was safety and comfort at hand. The storm erupted upon the mountainside hide-away and it was everything the clouds and darkness foreshadowed. Most people would curl up beside the fireplace, grab a book, make some coffee and enjoy the safety and security of a well-made cabin in the midst of ferocious turmoil. John Muir was of a different ilk, he put on his Winter clothes, went outside, climbed a tree beside the cabin and began to write of the experience, the intensity of the storm. "A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship ... All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God's eternal beauty and love."
We mistakenly view comfort, shelter, safety as the norm of life, the great escape from the treacheries and vandalism of existence. We mistakenly view life lived with ease and security as blessed, more highly esteemed, being free from disorder, apprehension, worry, threats and fears.
I am not saying that there is a lack of courage and faith to face the extreme challenges of life and consequence, it is that we are no longer forced to face our insecurities. As men we have been allowed to become complacent; euthanized to the state of our own apathy; seldom challenged to go above and beyond; to face the immensity of our fear; to be antagonized to action; to confront failure, immanent or unforeseen; to encounter our vulnerabilities; to deal with our weakness and defenselessness; to strive in the plight of the feeble: to defend against the powerful forces arrayed in life; to be of those who would dare to stand with defiance and bravado against insurmountable odds holding to certainties like a glass chain knowing it to be as fragile as life itself and yet ... it is heroes who understand the joy of the victory even in the midst of defeat.
Why, if we acknowledge that which lives in a man's heart vicariously through the heroes of fiction, would we not expect that God would want to tap into the depth of that potent, feral essence that we hold in earthen vessels, knowingly anticipating that breaking which is inevitable as an outcome of our inherent design. We have become domesticated, anesthetized to the vision of a man's worth; allowing, perhaps embracing, our devaluation as fathers; being emasculated as able-bodied, nimble-minded, virile leaders of home and community. This is my sin, in that I choose to abdicate; to reside in the stall, and the price I find is more than I can afford. In this exists the greatest of pain, the sorrow of my soul, the horror. In this I am mortified at my own sense of humiliation and shame for what I have become.
Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." A man's willingness to sacrifice is an untapped reserve in this day-and-age, as a generalization, because of the lack of need for the courageous and noble to be exhibited as a daily, 'a moment made eternity', expression of a 'great love'. Men understand that at the heart of the issue of manhood is the desire to be employed in the pursuit of an eminent 'good', a quest for ultimate 'freedom'; the giving and receiving of 'love'; the height of joy; the agony of defeat; and a heart convinced of the faithfulness and eternalness of God's love. If I want the heights of joy, then I must have, if it is possible, to find and submit to a 'great love', for "to be in love, as to see beauty, is a kind of adoring that turns the lover away from self". However, 'great joy' found through 'great love' always go hand-in-hand with frightful pain. In this a man is willing to sacrifice, to submit, to be willing to experience the pain in the attempt to realize the joy as it is fulfilled in love. If there was a choice between the heights and the depths and the safe and cautious may I have the courage to face the fears and take 'the path less travelled'. Sorrow is every man's plight, may the joy be worth the pain.
"Now behold, one came and said to Him (Jesus), "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? What do I still lack? ... Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
This is God's economy of life, in that, "God's kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks (or great possessions) Rather, God's kingdom consists of God's approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives."
Romans 12:1, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."
Php 2:17, "But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all."
1Ti 6:11, " ... but you, man of God, ... Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
Jas 1:12, "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Jn 6:27, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
... and are these just words ...