Monday, September 11, 2006

More on Manhood. My friend Austin recently attended a father/son retreat at a ranch out west. Among other things, he came back with a description of a "real" man. I take this to mean the sort of man that God meant in Job 40:7 when God told Job, "Brace yourself like a man".

A man, then,

1. Rejects passivity.

2. Accepts responsibility.

3. Leads courageously

4. Expects God's greater reward.

I know that Austin received a full explication of these points during the retreat, but we have not had time enough together for him to go into that explication with me. But those points are in large part self-explanatory. Each point seems to identify an area of weakness, especially in men. (I tend to want to do nothing - to be passive. I want someone else to do the heavy lifting. I want someone else to tell me what I should do next.) Number 4 had me a little puzzled, and so I have been giving it some thought over the last few days. (Its meaning is probably immediately plain to you.)

Number 4 seems to imply that our default mode is to expect, as a result of performing points 1 through 3 adequately, a reward other than "God's greater reward". That would be, I suppose, money, power, a fine reputation, all of the things that Job had at the beginning of the book. Those things are, of course, the currency of the world. But God had something greater for Job - not just the toys, but being able to "see" God.

Have you ever been energized by simply meeting someone and spending a little time with him? I find our pastor, Van, to be that sort of person. Being around him always prompts me to ask, not out of guilt but a sort of joy - OK, now where am I and where, in God's economy, do I need to go? A recent experience I had was meeting Governor Byrne of New Jersey, a Christian: just being in his 85 year old presence, hearing him talk and observing his decision-making made me feel better about myself, about what I, a 60 year old, could still do, and about what sort of world it is with which God continues to bless me. How much more will a man be transformed in the presence of God, and so it was with Job.

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