Do you know what it’s like to be in a spiritual desert?
I do. I’ve been in one for several years.
As a teen and young adult, I used to feel very emotionally and spiritually close to God.
I was excited to go to church and to the youth group that met every week. In fact, church was probably my favorite place to be.
At times, I would almost devour my Bible. I could spend hours reading and praying. I had a goal of reading the whole Bible (which I never quite fulfilled).
And I loved worship. I loved the sense of spiritual closeness to God that I felt when singing worship music. It didn’t matter if I was by myself or at a formal gathering, I simply couldn’t get enough of it.
Isn’t it sad how growing up can cause you to lose that youthful enthusiasm?
It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt consistently close to God. Sure, I’ve found some oases (the plural of oasis) as I’ve wandered the desert. At times, I even thought the oasis was the jungle at the edge of the desert. But soon the water would dry up and I’d be back to wandering again.
The desert is a dry and empty place. It has a way of sucking the joy out of you. You start to grow apathetic. You find it hard to even care that you’re lost. After a while, it becomes the norm. You grow comfortable with the desert. You learn where to find just enough water and food to get by. You’re never truly fulfilled, but at least you’re doing something, even if it is just wandering in hopeless circles.
The Way Out of the Desert
Several months ago I told the men of my small group about the desert. I asked them to pray for me to get out of the desert. Since then, I’ve fallen back into the general sense of apathy that characterizes the desert. I’ve done very little to look for the way out.
A week ago, my small group leader approached me about the desert. He challenged me not to let apathy keep me stuck. He reminded me of God’s promise in James 4:8 (KJV):
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Escaping the desert starts with drawing near to God. You see, I won’t be able to wander my way out. I can’t continue coast through life and hope that I will find the way out somehow.
The promise is that God will help me find the way out of this desert if I make the effort to draw near to Him.
The Essence of Godly Masculinity
Looking at the last several years of my life I think I can describe my general attitude with one word:
I hate this word. It is directly opposed to God’s design for us as Christians, and especially as men.
God’s design for masculinity can be primarily characterized by a different word:
God has designed the masculine soul to take action, to make risks, to be doers. If I am to escape this desert I will need to learn to be an initiator. If I want to be the husband my wife deserves and the father my children need I will have to embrace this concept. Take a look at these verses:
- From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (Matt. 11:12, NIV)
- For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 4:26, NKJV)
The Real Men Series
They often say you learn more by teaching than by doing. Over the next several weeks I will be writing a series of posts on Godly masculinity, which I am calling Real Men. During this series I will be both practicing and teaching several concepts that relate to this topic.
If you are a Christian man, it is my hope that you will follow along with this series and grow as you learn what it means to follow Christ. If you want to be kept up to date you can enter your email address in the box at the top of this page so I can send you emails as each post is published.