Thursday, July 26, 2007

Walter on How Men Look

The men of our church got a helpful letter from Walter a couple of months ago. I am going to post it in sections here. This is part one...

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My Dear Brothers,

It has been some time since my last letter to you all, which, if you think of it, is about as redundant a statement a man can make. “Some time.” Well, it’s certainly not been “no time.” But all that is besides the point.

Life on the farm is as good as usual – hard where it needs to be and surprising when you least expect it. The goats have been popping out kids like iPods from a Chinese factory, so I only have a few minutes to write between deliveries.

I thought I might say a few words to you all on the matter of your eyes – as in where it is they look. And so I have called this letter – the How Men Look. What I am most interested in here is a directional conversation. And that should explain itself as we move along.

Looking Forward
One of the great callings of manhood is learning to look ahead. And by that, I don’t mean what my pappy used to say every time we passed one of those roadside signs: “Look… a ‘head’!” while he’d point at my cranium’s carriage. What I mean is looking to the future, especially as it relates to preparing for what is to come.

One of the true delights of being a Christian, is that we know how our story ends! There is still much about the life to come that is a mystery, but there is nothing mysterious about the overall goal! With that question answered, a man is free to spread the wings of his manhood in looking ahead and planning accordingly.

Every man has a plan, it is just that some men know what theirs is… and they fill in the steps along the way to help it happen. Part of being a man is being a leader, and although we fellows might lead in different ways and with different styles, nobody truly leads without considering where it is they are going.

A man needs to see where it is he hopes to go, and be more than a careless king with good intentions. He needs to work his plan from the end back to today and consider how it is he’s going to get (by the Lord’s grace!) from here to there.

I knew a fellow that always said he was going to retire at age 55 – not bad for a farmer! Trouble is, he never took the trouble to map out how to get to that golden age until he was 3 years from his destination. Then, surprise, surprise… he had to change his goal by 12 years or so! So a man needs to give thought about how to get to where he hopes to go.

Looking forward also means thinking about trajectories – a word harder to say than understand. I weren’t much for geometrics in the public school, but I know if I want to get my plough straight to the other side of field, I’ve got to first trace the path in my mind’s eye - the trajectory. Doing such might alert me to the fact that a stone wall exists between me and my destination – not the easiest thing to get a tractor over! Likewise, a man needs to consider the outcomes of his current direction and behaviours. If you’re flirting daily with sexual sins, you might count it likely you’ll end up doing worse in that matter over time. If you tend to waste money now, it is more than likely you’ll have none 10 years from now.

Too many men live in a dream world, saying all the right slogans but not doing any hard slugging. If you want to change the port your ship lands at, point your bow in a new direction now! Nobody likes to change since it takes work and pain, but thorns and thistles are all yours until eternity friend, so you might as well get to weeding now before your garden gets overrun!

Recall the great apostle Paul. Now that man knew how to plan, far as I can tell. And so he systematically spent his life spreading the good news of Christ to city by city in ever-widening circles. He could’ve hopped on some ship and sailed for New Mexico, but he knew there were other worlds in-between. So, he started locally and moved outward… and had he lived long enough, part of me thinks he would’ve been the one to DISCOVER New Mexico in the end!

[More to come...]