This is a message specifically for the men, but ladies, feel free to proceed if you wish to do so.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like to be a man who's heart is right toward The Lord? Seriously speaking- have you ever REALLY thought about it? I know I haven't given it near as much thought as I should. I guess sometimes I get so caught up in trying not to screw up, that my eyes lose focus, and they shift from the Lord onto myself. I get so focused on my sin, and trying to keep it minimal, that I become passive, and I punt on what it means to be a man; I just stand there, stagnant, as if I'm surrounded by broken glass while I'm barefoot.
The Lord has made a point to change that. He has shifted my focus from my sin to His Grace. He's reminded me that He's already accounted for my screw-ups- it's funny, sometimes I forget that Jesus died for my sins TWO-THOUSAND YEARS AGO- He already knew! So, as He has turned my eyes to His Grace and His Love, so He has swept the floor clean and got me moving in the right direction.
Lately, I have been working through the idea of what it looks like to be a man who's heart is right toward The Lord. I have come across some things in the search that have provided a lot of insight on the idea, and nearly all of the insights have come directly from Scripture. What sparked my search can be found in 2 Chronicles 16:9, which reads:
"For the eyes of The Lord range throughout the Earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."
Today, I was in Luke 22, and when I began to read and digest all that occurred in the garden when Jesus prayed, and in Jesus' discussion with Judas Iscariot, I had to write a few things down.
First, Luke 22:42 says:
"Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from me- nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done."
Jesus is making it clear that what He has in front of Him is nothing short of a massive nightmare; this is going to be a task only the Son of Man could take on. In fact, the task had such a weight to it that in v.44 it says:
"Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground."
Observation #1: The Son of Man- the Savior of all mankind who knew no sin was experiencing so much anguish, He sweat blood. That's a pretty big indicator of the kind of storm He saw on the horizon. So, my first note in observing Jesus as He approaches His darkest hour: Even in His most trying hour of anguish, Jesus asked His Father to help Him do what The Lord had planned to be done from the start of time. He trusted His Heavenly Father through the greatest nightmare any of us could ever imagine- even through death. Don't miss that.
On a lighter, yet still significant note, Jesus continues to urge the disciples (specifically in Luke 22:46) to keep praying in order to refrain from falling into temptation. Now, there's a word used in v.45 that caught my eye: exhausted. Luke 22:45 says:
"When He got up from prayer and came to the disciples, He found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief."
So it's obvious that the disciples love Jesus- reflected by the fact that their grief has driven them into a near comatose state. But how does Jesus respond to the love He knew they had for Him in their hearts? He tells them to "Get up, and pray."
Observation #2: Only God can give us rest; we must ask Him for it. The disciples are in an immense flood of grief and confusion because of what's all happening so fast, and because of the love Jesus had for those men, He tells them to pray so that they won't fall into temptation. Jesus, even as He nears the crucifixion, is still looking to serve others before Himself. He continues to point the disciples away from their own selves, and back to The Lord. Sleep isn't what they need; God is.
The third point of interest in Luke 22 takes me to the conversation with Judas Iscariot, right after Peter has brilliantly slashed an ear off of the high priest's slave (Yes, Jesus still healed him). The words of Jesus in Luke 22:53:
"Everyday while I was with you in the temple complex, you never laid a hand on Me. But this is your hour- and the dominion of darkness."
So, the picture has now been made quite clear: darkness is about to take over for the next few hours. I'm not talking about physical darkness that you find at night when you go to bed (although, yes, that happened on the day of the crucifixion as well), and I'm not even talking about the darkness all of us see on CNN everyday. The darkness Jesus is speaking about is straight from the gates of Hell; He is about to walk through Hell on Earth, and He knows it.
This is the darkest and most horrifying situation anyone of us could ever find ourselves sitting in, yet Jesus was tailor-made for the moment, which is exactly why He handles it like a man who's heart is RIGHT towards The Lord.
Observation #3: The dominion of darkness- man, that's bone-chilling even to read, let alone be in the middle of. But how does Jesus carry Himself? He is OBEDIENT. He is BOLD. He is STRONG. He is WALKING BY FAITH placed in His Heavenly Father. In the midst of the dominion of darkness, Jesus stood, and acted like THE MAN, because He was, is, and always will be THE MAN.
There's so much fruit found in Luke 22 alone- it blows my mind...I didn't even get to cover all of it in my writing! But it's amazing how full the words of The Lord are...just in a mere 10 verses or so, we have a detailed depiction of the heart of Jesus Christ while death and darkness stand a few inches from His eyes. This is a man's man; this is the picture of a man who's heart is RIGHT toward The Lord. Here's what Luke 22 had to share about Jesus:
- An obedient, faithful man, even to the point of death.
- A humble man, always asking for His Father's help in doing things right.
- A man that sees and anticipates massive storms to come into His life, yet stands His ground and braces Himself in The Lord upon awaiting the arrival of the storms.
- A man who has unshakeable faith in The Lord's timing, plan, and promise.
- A man who knows rest is found only in The Lord, which rings all the more true in times of extreme trial.
- A man who seeks to serve in every moment, always looking for opportunities to love on others and encourage them in their Walk with The Lord.
- A man who paints a clear picture of the power of a man's dependency on The Lord.
- A man who walked through Hell on Earth, simply out of obedience to His Father, and out of His love for the lost.
- A man who looks betrayal, anguish, and death square in the eyes, and proceeds in boldness and astute confidence that can only come from the Spirit of God.
Jesus is the perfect example of a man's man; a man who's heart was right towards The Lord. There's so much to take in, so much to be seen in the Scripture's account of His time on Earth, but Luke 22 takes just a snippet that has indeed shown me truth I never knew.
Men, allow me to be real with you here...The truth is, the definition of a man you see, as displayed by the world today, is heresy. It's a complete lie.
Being a man has nothing to do with how strong you are.
Being a man has nothing to do with how much money you make.
Being a man has nothing to do with how many girls you can get.
Being a man has nothing to do with how many people know your name.
Being a man has nothing to do with ANYTHING that starts and ends with YOU.
A man is humble. A man is 100% dependent on God. A man is a servant FIRST. A man is willing and EAGER to make sacrifices for others. A man sets the standard in his home and in his surroundings with his pursuit of The Lord. A man LOOKS for opportunities to encourage and strengthen others in their Walk with The Lord. A man is obedient to The Lord. A man is bold, and confident, in the work of God's Hands in his life. A man PRAYS. A man ASKS. A man walks in the Grace and Love found in Jesus Christ and The Cross. A man looks in the mirror everyday, recognizing his sin and his inadequacy, and walks out the door with faith the size of a mustard seed because he knows that The Lord is the One who tells the wind and the waves when to stir and when to be still.
There's no room to look at yourself! There's no time to try and run the show on your own! There's no point in trying to be a superstar for all to see because honestly, without The Lord who are we? Sin-filled, broken, and blind people. Do we really believe we can navigate a limitless ocean in a boat built for one? Certainly not.
You know, it's amazing...we have so many identity crises in the world today. So many people just "can't seem to find themselves." And my heart breaks for them. My heart breaks because without The Lord, I wouldn't know who I am either. Each of us were beautifully and wonderfully made for a specific purpose; there is a reason why you and I are here, and the Call on our lives may be drastically different, or eerily similar. But the design is found in the Hands of The Designer. You will never know who you are, or why you're here, until you run to the One who hand-crafted you, and ask. That's simply the truth. The answers don't lie in the "stuff". They don't simply lie in the the people. They aren't at the end of some world-wide excursion to "find yourself." The answers are found with The Lord, and He just wants you to ask Him about it. The Lord is the One who gives the gifts value. The Lord is the One who uses community to bless and change our lives. The Lord is the One who gives us validation and value. Seek Him first. You may be surprised to find out that you are an heir to the throne, a royal priesthood...a child of the Living God. He's covered your sin with the gift of His Son, Jesus. He's loved you perfectly from the beginning of time, without exception. He's taken a sin-filled, broken, and blind people, and deemed them worthy to die for...go ask Him about it, and see what He says. Luke might be a good place to start; it sure encouraged me.
Thank you, Father, for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save me from my sin and show me the exact example of what Your design for a man really looks like. I'm not even close, but I know You're at work on my heart. I have an ever-present hope to always hold on to, simply because of who You are. We all do. And for that...you are to be forever praised.