Updated: Nov 7
Ever been in a locked trunk of a car? It can be unnerving - dark, muffled, tight surroundings.
A few years ago, I had my seniors read a piece called “How to Get Out of a Locked Trunk” by Philip Weiss. Truthfully, it wasn’t about trunklockings.
But one of the scenes finds Philip shielding his eyes as they reopen the trunk he failed to unlock. When we attempted this as a composition class there in the south parking lot of BHS, the class took great joy in bouncing the trunk up and down for the anonymous victim - (you know who you are) and then taking him for a spin around the lot, turn after turn and forward and reverse and “Go!”
Our faithful friend took it all in good fun, popped the trunk from the inside, victorious, but safe to say, he was pretty disoriented. He laughed good naturedly and had only one question, “Why is there so much bubble wrap in your trunk and why do you only have a 3 iron - where’s the rest of your clubs?”
The whole affair was the inspiration for a little video they made called “Out da trunk!” (Thanks Alex Gribben.) It was a lot of good, small-school fun and today, certainly would have included some kind of reprimand for the irresponsible choices we made.
This week, haven’t we too emerged from the darkness somewhat disoriented? Our lives turned upside down. Jobs in jeopardy. Uncertain economic future. Families separated. Kid’s education’s interrupted and activities lost. All social interaction in question and on the verge of being illegal. An election that most likely will drag through courts, leaving us wondering what the future holds.
We question: “What if I lose my way?”
In 2 Timothy 2, the apostle Paul, a total badass in life* and repentant follower of Jesus Christ, tells the one he has closely mentored, “Be strong! Group up with some faithful men who can teach others. Be ready to suffer and share in the suffering, like a good soldier. AND, Keep Your Attention on Christ!”
That may seem off topic for this situation.
I get it! As men we get wrapped up in what we do, how we perform and how well we provide. Our sense of security is often easy to measure - if things are good - we’re like a duck on water - calm on the surface and paddling like hell underneath the waterline!
But when the waves of disaster unfold and endure, we have to choose how we are going to respond. Likely, we will depend on some strength we developed as we endured previous hardship - but this is new ground with new rules we’ve never played by before. So, we may set our jaw, redouble our efforts, lie to our family, that “Everything will be fine” and strategize for the next week, or possibly hopelessly give up leaving everyone we love in shock. The Bible calls this “flesh” not skin, but instead - a mindset (Galatians 5 and Romans 6, 7 and 8).
Paul reminds us that this would be a foolish mindset and clarifies that we can’t do this alone. His letters help men to get a better picture of what’s needed for battle.
First, we need to recognize Who is holding “it” all together (see Colossians). Second, we need Christ in us (see 2 Corinthians 3, 4 and 5) Third, we need to armor up (Ephesians 6:10-18) And finally, we need to rest in the truth that God supplies our strength to stand on ground He has already taken.
Who is holding it all together? - Well, it’s not us; it’s not our economy; it’s not our government.
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
If in Him all things hold together, then apart from Him, all things fall apart.
Several years ago when I was about to undergo another possible life-ending cancer surgery, my daughter, Keala, requested that we get matching tattoos before the event; I decided to match one she already had. John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for...
Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Second,“abide”. This is a daily reminder to me that I need to rest, dwell or be rooted in Him. That’s a Spirit thing - His Spirit resides in me.
2 Corinthians 1:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all people, 3 revealing yourselves, that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
This just tells us, people can see whether the Spirit of God resonates in you or not - not because we have some rules, laws or commandments that we live by, no, Christ fulfilled all those commandments and issued a new commandment:
John 13:34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.”
See, there is evidence of how we treat people - all people!
Third, we never are told to remove our armor. We are told to take up our armor and to prepare to stand in the fight every day. As men, that’s our job!
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints.
Adam should have done it while he stood next to his wife while Satan tempted her - he didn’t, he let his guard down for her and then relinquished the authority that had been given to him by God and in it the garden, his kingdom and his spirit.
We should never lay down our weapons, become complacent or hand over our responsibilities as men. It’s our job to grow intentionally and lead our families. If we want them to know the truth - we need to know Him.
Finally, “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
He commands us, because He is our rock, our shield, our hope and our mighty right hand. We don’t supply the strength and courage; it comes from and through His Son, Jesus.
Joshua starts with this directive, but READ Joshua 24. He ends with a clear picture of Who has delivered us from every kind of catastrophe. Underline in your Bible who supplied, Who delivered, Who handed, Who gave!
Our hope is in the One Who will walk us through this current age and grow us as men, to be strong in Him. The times will change, but He will never change. And when we endure for a little while, God will faithfully transform us into His warriors, who can endure the next changes that will come.
In the days ahead, the world around us will try to unnerve us, leave us doubting, disturb us with fear of the future, make us angry because of mandates we can’t control.
What we can control is our dependence on the strength of our God. Because of that we can tell each other...