Me and my best friend, Tyler, camped at his grandparents ranch when we were about eight years old or so. Now, when I say “camped” we were maybe twenty yards from his grandparents front door in a tent. So, not exactly camping by normal standards. But—we were so pumped to have this “guys night” and just rule the ranch that night, even if there was a sign warning against killer cows, okay maybe not killer cows but hey, anything for more excitement. Right?
Well, we settled into our tent planning battlefields with army men and strategizing against each other until Tyler said he had to go to the bathroom. So he left and I sat and waited, and waited, played with the army guys, and waited. So the clock kept turning…ten minutes passed..twenty…forty-five.. about an hour passed until I realized something was up. Where did he go?
I decided to muster up some courage and leave the tent to face the killer cows and get to the house. It was cold outside, I just needed to make it to the light on the front porch. One step, two steps, sprint to the front porch, I made it. I opened the front door to the house and lo and behold, Tyler is sitting on the couch drinking water from a glass and he says, “What’s up?”
That was the last time we went camping.
This was the story I shared this past Saturday at the rehearsal dinner for Tyler’s wedding. He could probably share many stories like that about me, but I had the opportunity to do that to him because hey, you don’t get many opportunities to talk about your brother in front of his in-laws.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”Romans 12:9-10, ESV
In the last fifteen years of knowing Tyler I can say that he truly emulated these qualities in brotherhood. He was consistent in our friendship and I will always be thankful. But I look at our world today and see so much inconsistencies in our world today, both young and old generations.
We are in a time where it is normal to have broken families, broken relationships, and broken spirits. This should not be normal. Yes, we will always be broken and will never be “good enough” but, this should not mean that we stand idly by and let darkness win the fight against us.
I spoke to someone about half a year ago about motivation and freedom and he said that there was no chance for him to truly experience those gifts. That it was “too late,” “like doesn’t work that way,” and that “even if there was a possibility, it would not be real.” And I call BS on that. I do.
Yeah, there is always more to the story, there is always pain and suffering that I have never experienced, nor would I want to. But— to roll over and continue taking hits for things that someone has already died for, and to knowingly choose a life of captivity I want to invite you to come camping. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
I feel plagued by sexual sin. The media, the music, the movies, the tv shows, the current culture…just—everywhere I turn there is another opportunity to take part in something that leads to self-gratification. An invitation into something that leads to temporary fulfillment. An invitation into feeling affirmed wholly, just to hit a crumbling realization that you are the same as you were the day before.
I’m sure you feel the same way. We have entered an age where it is normal to have three different dating apps designated for sexual fulfillment. It is normal to have an open relationship with whomever. I mean, who are we kidding ourselves? Is that love? Is that instant gratification an invitation into freedom with God?
Now, before you close out or continue on, I want to be perfectly clear. Me saying these things does not mean I am without sin. I hope this all comes with conviction, not shame. Shame is a tool in which the evil one uses to push you further into sin.
Sexual sin, in this age, especially in Western American culture (I’m speaking from my experience) is something that everything young person wrestles with. But that does not mean our story ends with that. Actually, it is just getting started.
Redemption is a real and powerful thing that Jesus invites you into. Every day. Not just once. Every. Day. That just means you’ve got to talk to Him. Read His Word. You’ve got to talk to others about these things as well. Extend brotherly affection and listen to the hearts of those around you. Show honor to each other and walk in the light, leaving nothing in the shadows.
I invite you to go camping. Go with those who need these things, you know who you are, and you for sure know who they are. Maybe it’s not camping, maybe it’s a day hike. Get out there and get away from this world for at least a few hours and truly get to know what that affection and honor is.
My brother, Tyler, got married this weekend. It was a day we talked about for years, since we were in middle school (we were always sensitive kids), and I can safely say that his brotherly affection and honor had a deep impact on me, and I did the same for him. Yeah, that was just our friendship, but because of that it has shaped many of my friendships today.
“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”1 Timothy 4:11-16, ESV (emphasis me)
You don’t set an example as a perfect person, no one does that. No one wants to learn from someone who has never failed, it just isn’t realistic. BUT—you do learn from brokenness. We are invited in our brokenness to pursue Jesus so that our brothers would see our progress. We are invited to invite others to pursue Jesus.
So—let’s go camping.