I recently completed leading a group of four men on a journey of discovery. We became a band of brothers that together explored who God is and who God made us to be.
I’ve used quite a bit of material from John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart Ministries. I’ve also received a bit of criticism for doing so.
One of the criticisms that that John Eldredge receives about “Wild at Heart” is his perceived “boxing” of men – putting men in the box of the wilderness. That the only way a man can really be happy and be a real man is for him to be out in the wild. I don’t agree with this criticism and I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first let’s look at Eldredge’s premise.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. (emphasis added)
Again, God says in verse 15:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (emphasis added)
God created Adam in the wilderness and then brought him into the garden. Adam’s first experience with life is out in the wilderness, in the wild with God.
The point here is that man feels at home with his Father out in the wilderness as well (if not more so) as in the place of work (the garden). God gave us both, as men. Both are safe, both are wild but one more so than the other.
I contend that the wild can be anywhere. The criticism of Eldredge is that a man can only be really a man when he is out in the mountains, hiking, camping, fly-fishing, hunting, etc.
But the wild can be anywhere that isn’t work. Work is ok, there’s nothing wrong with work and a man can be a man at work – after all, God gave us work to do.
But it is in the wild that we feel most at home with our Father. These are the places where we can have adventure and excitement; the places where we can dare to dream; the places where we can push ourselves to the limit and beyond.
Think about it for a moment. What kind of movies appeal to men?
Have you ever asked yourself why this is so? The answer is because our Father, who made us in such a way as to enjoy adventure, excitement and action, writes our true story in just that way!
The wild can be:
A little-known and less-visited stretch of river where rainbow trout grow as long as your arm and hit only on a handful of flies that are know by even less fly-fisherman.
The backcountry that’s a 26 mile drive to the trailhead, then another 3 miles of hiking to get to a campsite.
The snow-capped mountains of the Rockies or, better yet, the Himilayas.
But the wild can also be:
Water Street in downtown Milwaukee
Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Lower Alabama Street in Atlanta.
The wild is where our lives began and it is in the wild that our boyhood begins.
In the wild we hear and ask our first questions. The ultimate question every person has is “Am I loved.” Man, woman, boy, girl – doesn’t matter. This question is no respecter of age or gender.
In boyhood this question needs to be answered and answered correctly if a man is going to live the life that God intended for him to live.
There are times when a boy is not loved as a child. Neglect, abuse, these are ways that answer that question negatively. A man who has that kind of boyhood has the odds stacked against him. But all hope is not lost.
For we all have a Father who loves us. A Father who loves us perfectly. A Father who sent His Son to be our Brother.
Next week, I’ll explore further what this means.