I took a deep breath and tried to focus. “We have to win this fight,” I thought, “So much is riding on this moment.” My heart was pounding, and my hands were sweaty, but I suppressed my fear and moved towards the sound of gunfire.
I walked carefully down the war-torn street with my rifle leading the way and my finger on the trigger. I knew there were enemy combatants around the corner—the same corner where many of my teammates, my brothers, had been ambushed just moments earlier. I peeked around the corner, and sure enough, they were barricaded behind some makeshift cover and laying down suppressive fire.
Somewhere in the background, I heard something that sounded like a bell. It didn’t matter; I was in the fight. I zeroed in on the closest target and squeezed the trigger. At the same time, he shot at me, but his rounds landed where I stood just a fraction of a second earlier as I sidestepped from the corner into the open.
Once he was down, I moved on to the next one, but I wasn’t fast enough. I realized I was outmaneuvered and outgunned when the next one opened fire. I felt the impact of a round as others hit all around me. I tried to turn towards him to shoot back when I felt another hit, the force knocking me to the ground.
I lay there bleeding, and there was that bell sound again. Not some bells ringing in my head but something more familiar, more of a ding-dong. That’s when I realized that someone was at the front door. I paused my video game and ran up the stairs to see who it was. It was my wife’s best friend.
My wife was very sick and had been for quite a while. We had just had our second baby, and they discovered that she had some rare blood disorder during the pregnancy. As a result, she had to undergo some chemotherapy that took a lot out of her.
“I’m just here to do some laundry,” her friend explained. Despite my best attempts to tell her that she shouldn’t trouble herself and that we were doing just fine, I took her to our laundry room. There, to my extreme embarrassment, was a mountain of dirty clothes piled in the middle of the laundry room floor. It was so much that you could hardly see the color of the carpet.
This moment was the beginning of an awakening for me. Here I was, the husband of a sick wife and the father of two young boys, depending on me, and where was I? I was in my little world doing whatever made me feel good. I wasn’t taking care of my family. Instead, I needed other people to do it. I realized that even though I was an adult and a male, I was far from an actual man.
I loved the idea of fighting for what I believed in and protecting the ones I loved, but the reality was that I didn’t know how to do any of those things. Instead, I looked to works of fiction and lost myself in fantasy worlds. These were the only places where I could be the hero.
Around 593 B.C., God spoke to a man named Ezekiel about the coming judgment of his people because of their unrepentant sin. In Ezekiel 22, God makes this statement in verse 30: “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.”
God was looking for a man. A man that would stand in the gap and build up the wall, but he found none. I fear we are dangerously close to being in a similar situation today. Many men are where I found myself. They want to make a difference, save the world, and be the hero, but they are held captive in a perpetual adolescence. They invest their energy in things that mimic these God-given desires, but in so doing, they miss the opportunity to act like men. They become deceived into feeling like they are accomplishing something when, in reality, they are only serving themselves. They have allowed the walls of God’s word and biblical tradition to crumble.
We have done so in the name of convenience. Sure, walls keep the bad guys out, but they also limit the movement of those they protect. We want to feel more free or progressive, so we neglect the upkeep of the boundaries established for our well-being. God is looking for men who will rebuild the wall. Building the wall starts with individuals living disciplined lives according to the Grace of God in our lives.
Secondly, God is looking for men who will stand in the breach. As we rebuild the wall, we have to deal with the gaps in that wall. Sin has prevailed in these places, and now we are vulnerable to God’s judgment. To stand in the gap is not to make excuses for the hole in the wall but to willingly stand in that hole and cover it as a human shield—men who would take responsibility.
Please don’t take me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have hobbies. I am saying that just being there isn’t enough. God is seeking men to build the wall and stand in the gap.
Love requires action, men who will be intentional about the legacy they leave behind. I want to challenge you to consider the possibility of your complacency and start seeking the ultimate example of manhood: Jesus. We need men who will lead from the front. Take your family to church, read the Bible with them, pray, and worship God with them. Then, as you build that wall of Godly habits, stand in the gap by fighting against the evil widely accepted in our culture: sin that is inviting the wrath of a holy and just God.
Be the man God is looking for.
Trevor Rickard is an Associate Pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship