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566781896_2ef90e26c4_mI’m sitting in the sound booth during the first session of our Men’s Advanced Conference listening to John Eldredge. At some point my mind shifts from John and whether or not the canvas bottom “Directors” chair I’m sitting in will collapse to my speaking the next evening. I’m unsettled… antsy about the direction/content/illustrations/relevance of my topic. Actually it’s deeper than “antsy”; I was feeling the pressure to make a difference in these good men’s lives. The squeeze gripping me was for God to show up in some weighty way sweeping us up and into some degree of a stunned paralysis of awe.

In my saggy seat I’m thinking I won’t deliver. I’m pretty certain I won’t come through… change that to can’t come through.

For most of us shame/self-contempt is our backdoor friend. Shame is that one we wouldn’t admit to knowing yet flirt with throughout the day. It’s really an affair of the soul we refuse to break off. Shame serves a twisted purpose… comfortably immobilizing us, explaining our unpredictable world, numbing the mythic longings of our heart and justifying our script of small-story-victim-hood. Yet sheathed by contempt’s husk/coat is something beautifully pure, good and godly… a longing, an identity authored by God. There is a kernel.

The longing for God to come is shrouded with the shame of “Who are you kidding. You! You? You’re a schmuck… You’ve got squat to say… nothing. Zip, zero, nada nichts! “

Now… that’s a slanderous perversion of the truth.

Yet, I choose to believe this shadowy mistress of mine time and time again despite her ruinous affect upon my life. She leaves me passive, disengaged, hiding behind props and techniques, tickling ears, pleasing men, internally enraged at God, others, and myself… cursing the success of others while wishing my life of impotence would quickly end. 

I’m speaking tomorrow… and surely aware of both kernel and husk.

And then God, the forever and always present God, who has been sitting next to me all this time, leans over, clears His throat and points out a defining agreement that I’ve made and lived by: 

Something more than who I am and what I have is required of me. I’m simply not enough.

Now… that’s a slanderous perversion of the truth.

Believing that, accepting that ancient script of diminishment explains why I’m so antsy about tomorrow night… so unsettled… my failure is inevitable. Internally I’m scrambling to minimize my certain losses.

This isn’t a man pawing the earth anxious to enter the arena and fight to the death for a noble cause. Nor is it a man standing tall among a group of weary sojourners in a season of fear offering words of hope, life, strength and direction.  This is Little Craig playing third base in the All Star game with a one run lead in the ninth inning, two outs and the bases loaded hoping the batter doesn’t hit it to him.

My godless agreement/affair with shame comes to the light… my hussy doesn’t look so good in broad daylight. I understand the attraction but now it feels so very wrong... the magic is gone, the price too high, the damage too broad… this isn’t the life I want to live!

 Will you break that agreement Craig?

(Note: God has a way of overlaying messages to us. Simultaneously I’m convicted of my sin of adulterous unbelief while, in the same breath hearing an invitation to another way of living. It’s like a father who is firmly disciplining his child with an authoritative, “No, you can’t get your way on this issue” while at the same moment, everything in his eyes is saying “I love you so incredibly much”.)

I do, I do, I do (the last time I said that many “I do’s” was on my wedding day). I break all agreements I have made, I take back all ground given to this lie. Christ, I ask you to… I give you permission and access to purge this hell born script from my being. May the kernel… the life, calling and the fullness of my identity come to life! Oh may my life bring Your life to others!

Again, may I offer... God is close. He is next to you wherever you may be. There is no place you are He isn’t. He’s at work… do you see Him?

(to be continued)

- Craig McConnell

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