“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25
There have been many times in my life when I’ve had others tell me I should go find a “regular job” – one that provides a fixed income, retirement, and health insurance – that I should “play it safe.” Although there is a certain wisdom in that advice, it is limited by human thought. My life has been anything but “normal” or “safe.” But if I didn’t do what God called me to do – to share His Truth in the way that He created me to do – I might as well go curl up under an overpass and cash it in. I have a fire burning inside of me that nothing has been able to extinguish. I will go down swinging, my two-edged sword in hand. The King of the Universe dwells within me! And He has given me the title Warrior Poet.
In the movie The Lion King, Simba has run away from home after his evil uncle has convinced him that he is bad and should go hide in shame (sound familiar?). Mufasa comes back to remind his son who he really is, and prompts him to get back in the game.
Much like Simba, in 2006 I left a church where I was the pastor of worship. I tucked tail and ran, ashamed, after getting too close to a woman emotionally. Even though I had never met her outside of the workplace, I was put on the church platform, where I had to confess what had happened to more than a thousand people in three services. In the months following, the congregation was instructed not to call our house or come visit. The purpose of that isolation was supposed to be so that “healing” could take place, but it reeked of shunning. All it did was pile on more loneliness and shame than I’d ever experienced in my entire life – nothing else had even come close. The message being communicated to me and to others was clear: “Brent, you are your sin.”
Several months after packing up my family and our belongings, and selling the home where I’d wanted to spend the rest of my life being close to my elderly parents, I received a card from a friend who was in one of the men’s groups I had led. Steve had been sort of a rebel in high school; he once told me how he used to give my father a hard time (my dad had been one of his teachers). God had turned this rebellious man, a man who once roared loudly on the outside to mark his territory, into a broken man who now got his identity from the roar within. In his card, Steve expressed how sad he was that I’d left the church, reminded me who I really was, and encouraged me to pick up my sword and start swinging again. It would be a number of years before I would reclaim my identity as the “warrior poet,” the title God had given me.
As I was cleaning out my garage recently, I came across that card Steve sent me 13 years ago. As I stood there holding his words in my hand, I began to cry. You see, Steve passed away just days before I found his card. It hit me hard. Even after his death, Steve’s words reminded me once again of who I really was, and all these years later, of the many battles I’d fought, of being privileged to personally lead over 12,000 men to Christ through speaking at men’s events. When shame entered my pores in 2006 through the lies of the enemy, I was done. I was ready to give up, check out, cash it in – to settle for any bone thrown to me. Why? Because the voices of those I had trusted were silently screaming, “Brent, you’re not good enough. You don’t have what it takes.”
The result? Shame.