I wrote this column for Crosswalk in 2007, this past week I was honored that Crosswalk featured it once again. Enjoy a peek into my journey today, I pray it encourages you to rest before the Lord and know that He is in control.
Oh, what sin has corrupted. Isn’t it amazing how we men struggle find our identity in what they do, rather who we already are?
If it wasn’t for the car we drive, the title attaching itself to our name on the business card, the amount of money we make, things we store in our idol garage, or the people we hang out with inside of our lifeboat, we men might not have an identity to speak of.
My past year has had its turn of events. A corporate decision of termination of my career direction caused me to stumble upon the fact that I was finding way too much of my identity in ‘what I did’ for a living.
The result caused me to be emasculated to the core. My ego was sabotaged by the corporate decision to remove my tenure of contributions due to a choice involving economics for the future. All that loyalty, effort and accomplishment washed away due to projected numbers on a piece of paper.
I was no longer desired by ‘the job’ I did, and I was emotionally shipwrecked.
Strange as it may sound, I’m now ‘happy that it happened’, but still struggling to overcome the ordeal. For I am a complete ‘Ragamuffin’ man in God’s fallen creation, needing His grace each step of the way.
I was encouraged, as I stumbled upon God grace in Adam’s plight.
Here was the ultimate, created man in a sinless environment; naked and content to name animals for the Creator Himself. If you ask any ‘real man’ today, he’d say, “Uh, not only do I want to name the animals, I want to design them – because I want the full recognition.”
What made Adam sit there – naked? He didn’t know it; he was too focused on God’s identity in him and for him.
Naked Adam sitting naked on a rock and overseeing anything for God made his day fulfilling. We men laugh at his assignment; can you imagine, asking a man to sit naked on a rock and come up with names for animals that parade in front of him. What lunacy and waist of talents.
Yet, the more we laugh, the more it turns to sorrow. After Adam was finished with the livestock inventory, things began to turn for him – and the rest of manhood.
When Adam and the needed addition (Adam needed her), called Eve, sinned, identity became a commodity for mankind. As God was taking His usual stroll through the garden, He called out to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” They appeared from their hiding, wearing fig leaves’ and personally ashamed.
The first thing that Abba said, “Who told you that you were naked?”
What an amazing verse, who told you that your identity is not found in me? Who has deceived you that you run from your source of contentment to wear simple leaves hiding your physical identity from Me and others? I made placed identity, as I made you. What has robbed you of your self-esteem, confidence and complete identity in Me?
From this moment on, Adam’s (man) self-fulfillment fell from identity in God to identity in what he does.
Amazingly, God takes the animals that Adam was once naming and uses them to cover his nakedness. Aside from the theological and prophetical applications here; we see Abba Father take what Adam did in being as an “animal namer” and use it to physical cover him in a new naked society full of sin.
What was meant to symbolically cover Adam from his sin demise and confusion, Adam made into empty self-identity. As if to say, “I was once the ‘animal namer’ in God’s garden, see, here is my resume.”
Ever since, the struggle for men (women too) and our identity has been in what we do, have, know, have done, make, wear or perform. We have lost the powerful contentment of sitting naked on a rock with God’s purpose for us pleasing us every moment of every day.
When each day arrives at night’s quiet, we hunger for the altar of authentic.
When we consider our fathering tasks, we cry with our failures. When we consider our love offering to our wives, we grow cold of emotion, it’s never perfect enough. When we think of all the times we perform for the masses, knowing it is an animal covering and nothing more, we call ourselves cowards.
We spend our days reading our impressive identity ‘press releases’ and evaluating our mutual relationship ‘respect-meter’. We now spend more than a fair amount of our lives looking for the stage of performance, and secretly longing for a naked appearance before God on a simple rock alter.
My encouragement; “get naked men”, find the rock altar and God’s identity in naming the animals in your life again.