As I said earlier, this message was originally given on Father's Day, and it was directed as a challenge to men. This post will have that particular slant on it. While many of the men who blog no longer live this way, I believe that we all know men whose hearts are isolated, cold, and indifferent. The macho stereotype reinforces this tough protective facade. I do not share Driscoll's view of men, but rather believe that a truly strong and free man is nothing like the kind of man that Mark describes. These thoughts do not come from a low opinion of men, but rather from a frustration that even in our churches, men are often caught in a life of pretending and emotional emptiness.
"He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers." Mal.4:6
In order for this to happen, men's hearts must be free so they can give themselves to their children.
Men are good at giving things. They give advice and provision, but they often have big problems when they are asked to give themselves. If a man refuses to give himself, then his family will remain empty.
Men find it hard to give themselves because they are afraid to be real and afraid to be vulnerable. What they primarily fear is someone finding out who they really are.
"I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." Gen.3:10
Many men are wrestling with inner fear, afraid of intimacy and feelings. They are great "hiders." They hide their love, and they hide their fear. They hide behind the newspaper or the television and won't really talk to their wife or children. They hide behind passivity and won't confront difficult situations.
This habit of hiding destroys homes, robbing wives of intimacy, alienating children, and frustrating the man's relationship with God. You do not have to look far to see the frustration of women who cannot get their husband to connect and of children who cannot find their father's love or approval.
An angry man destroys with his words,
and a silent man starves his wife and children.
Silence wraps itself around a man like a blanket, insulating him from the risk of rejection. We develop defense mechanisms to protect ourselves. The things we do to protect our heart are sometimes the things that actually destroy us.
Strongholds develop in our lives from the environment in which we were raised and the painful experiences in our pasts. These strongholds affect our temperaments and the way we relate to our spouses and children. They result in behavior patterns we have learned over time.
Manhood is rooted in childhood.
Old issues are the enemies of your soul. You have to be willing to confront issues that other men run from. Freedom only comes when you open up and face things you may not have admitted to anyone.
You are more than your childhood. You are more than your past. You are more than your circumstances. You are NOT who the enemy says you are!
The reason we face our past is because we want our future. It is frightening to stand naked before God. Losing the mask is painful. Underneath the mask is all the hurt and fear we've been running from and hiding from. To let it be exposed can shake you like an earthquake.
When you come to God in your nakedness, you will discover how refreshing and freeing it is to be forgiven and accepted for who you really are. We must face our fears head-on.
What we are journeying toward is freedom, to set our hearts free to dream holy dreams.
Here I must direct you to my friend Pam's post today where she so eloquently describes becoming free of the lies of the enemy.
"For a long time, an impossibly long time...I lived with a distortion of God's love and grace for me. I was convinced that God loved me only because He Had To.
I have discovered in quietness and steadiness that Jesus is not like me. I can be my own worst enemy. He is not like that. I would condemn myself. He does not. I am prone to define my life by my failures and missed opportunities. He defines me by his love."