Can't Give What You Ain't Got

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

I recently did a baby dedication. The child was born out of wedlock. The father was no where to be found at the service where the child was dedicated despite the fact that the service had been planned for at least a month and half.

The Lord led me to Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." The brief thought was that it is of vital importance that children be trained in the way they should go and that we can't give them what we don't have. So, in order for mommy to train baby, mommy's got to be trained so that she can impart training.

I'm reading a book recommended to me by Brother Waverly Alston entitled Healing the Masculine Soul: How God Restores Men to Real Manhood by Gordon Dalbey. It's a powerful read. He lifts up the need for men to be brought out from their mother's huts (a Nigerian rite of passage motif) by other men. Mothers nurture the boys. But at a certain point a boy needs a man to show him what it means to be a man.

The way it goes is that the men of the tribe go into the tribe center one night to initiate boys who need to make that passage from boyhood to manhood. They are beating their drums. There is one man who wears the spirit mask who goes to the mother's hut door. He beats on the door. The mother opens. And the men are chanting for the boy to "Come out!" They don't grab the boy. Naturally, the mother defends the boy. She doesn't want to see her boy go! The men don't stop chanting, "Come out! Come out!" They continue the invitation until the boy himself pushes his way past him mommy to join his dad and the men and thus begins his two-week training. There are things that he learns in those two weeks that only men can teach him. His mother did a lot for him, but there are things only a man can impart.

Some of us men didn't get what we needed from our fathers because they didn't get it from theirs. They didn't know what to do. So, some stayed in the hut with Mama. And Mama couldn't teach us to be sensitive like a man, she only taught us a woman's perspective on sensitivity.

Our Father's didn't give what they didn't have. The beauty of the Christian faith is that we have a Heavenly Father who can teach us and bring us into real manhood. He can make up for what our biological fathers lacked. It is often not their fault. Our fathers fell short because their fathers didn't show them real manhood.

(As an aside and a bit of transparency, I believe my father did the best he could. His biological father was a proverbial rolling stone. My grandfather had kids all over Baltimore city. They knew each other but most had different mothers; they were half brothers and sisters to each other. My grandfather finally settled down in Chicago and actually "fathered" my father's youngest half brother Carl. My dad, being the oldest, got the short end of the stick. So, I give my dad kudos from having stayed in the home with his four children and he is STILL with my mother four decades after he took her to be his wife.)

Dalbey used the encounter between Christ and Nicodemus in John 3 where Jesus says we have to be born again to illustrate how there are some things we can only get from our Heavenly Father. Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again if he will be saved. To which Nicodemus counters, "How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb?" Jesus let's him know that the answer is no. Our rebirth must come from God. The problem with too many of us men is that we are still connected to our mothers. It's time for us to pass from boyhood to manhood. And only another man can do that. If there was no man in our life, the Father beckons us through the Spirit to "Come out!"

And what does our Heavenly Father teach us? He teaches us to be honest. He teaches us to speak the truth with love (Ephesians 4:15). He teaches us to be men and carry a sword. To be warriors. But it's the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). And He teaches us that we wield that sword as a surgeon and not a serial killer. Like any good surgeon, the truth that we share with the women we love is sometimes painful, but it is not destructive. It cuts so that it can heal.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).


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