Receiving the Mother Heart of God

What would it be like to burst with joy and feel ten feet tall?(1) If that were available, where would you find it, and how would you make it last? 

I invite you wonder about the *more* that is possible. Come with me as we explore Sonship – Receiving the Mother Heart of Goda teaching I recently offered at Discovery Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For the Kingdom,
Morgan

Reflection Questions and More to go deeper into this teaching


(1) Isaiah 66:14 MSG

An Arsenal, A Library, and a Tool Collection

This was no place for an Xbox. Or any digital device for that matter.

Though there were no “danger” signs posted, the heavy equipment, hum of the air compressor, and repeated firing of the nail gun made it clear: something powerful was under way, and as with every instance of power, you’d better be attentive unless you want to get hurt. We were part of an active construction site.

The crane truck had just left, having hoisted the roof trusses to the second floor. The day’s primary tasks were clear: dig 36-inch deep holes for concrete footers, dozens of four-foot by eight-foot plywood sheets through the framed walls, and, one way or another, get them up to the second floor. Then, by sunset, cut and lay out the plywood sheeting and secure it with nail gun and glue in the hopes of having a second-story floor.

We got to work, a handful of fathers and sons. Sweat and stories ensued. The fathers sharing stories of the exposure they did (or didn’t) have as young men to this type of hard and holy work. And the young men, with shovels, picks, and tamping bars, shared their own sorts of stories as well. As is the nature of hard work and young men, laughter mixed with just the right amount of griping and vain attempts to come up with shortcuts.

It was perfect.

For neighborhood dog walkers or any other passersby, the scene probably looked like just another work day within the slow and steady process of residential construction. But on the level of the soul, these were the rough-hewn ingredients of another round of masculine initiation.

The general contractor gets it: he doesn’t ultimately build homes—he builds people.

And the atmosphere he creates touches the hearts and hands of everyone who gets involved in his work. As Francis Schaeffer suggests, for the soul of a man who has been given over to God and his Kingdom, there are simply no little people, no little places, and no little things. When the Kingdom is at hand, all manner of things become sacred, infused with the Divine in a way that cannot be explained in material terms. Through the blend of hard work, story, complaining, and play, something was being passed from older man to younger man; an invisible process more substantive than the construction project was under way.

Much to their relief, lunch break came earlier than the boys anticipated. We gathered around a roaring campfire fueled by scraps of framing material. And in that place, we were all wondrously equal. Men, young and old, burritos, fire, dirty hands, splinters, and stories.

In time, to the surprise of the boys, the conversation shifted, and the fathers moved to bestow an unexpected gift upon them: the equipment for the masculine soul.

First came the Joy Buckets: five-gallon Home Depot buckets with tool pouches conveniently fitted around their rims. Next came pocket knives, bestowed one by one, son by son. Then came books. One for each boy. Each unique. From an older man to a younger one, each naming why this book held a treasured place in his story.

For a few moments, we inhabited what the celtic Christians named as a “thin place,” a place where the veil between the eternal and the temporal, the heavens and the earth, almost entirely dissolves. As Dallas reminds us in The Divine Conspiracy, “The most important things in our human lives are nearly always things that are invisible.” And for this moment, through the grace of God, we saw Reality as it truly is. In the context of hard work, transformational stories, and masculine love, God the Father was investing in the process of initiation for each of these young men within their quest to become the man God meant when he meant them.

Over the last few decades, in journeying into the stories of men as well as in participating in my own initiation as a son and as a man, I’ve observed several key ingredients that seem universal to the process of masculine initiation.

Every warrior needs weapons. Every student needs books. Every craftsman needs tools. Each of these realties, infinitely unique in its expression for each man, offers hidden treasures waiting to be awakened and nourished in the soul of the boy. The fruit of each man immersing himself in his particular books, skilling himself in his particular tools, and learning to wield his particular weapons in love is universal: pervasive inner transformation that forsakes the mere self-life and yields a capacity to bring harnessed strength on behalf of the Good.

Library

Most initiated men I encounter have a collection of well-read and cherished books. The books a man values speak volumes about the formation of his soul. Though the subject matter may vary greatly, when I meet a man who has taken the time to learn, think deeply, and explore the inner and outer world with curiosity, his deliberation begets a consent in my own soul to risk and devote myself to deeper curiosity, thought, and imagination. His posture as a learner spurs my own intention to be a student of things good, true, and beautiful.

Tool Collection

Most initiated men I encounter have a treasured collection of well-worn tools. Tools speak of agency and competence and reflect an essence of masculinity: deliberate action and skilled engagement. Our contemporary culture often values convenience, specialization, and outsourcing over physical work and agency or general competence. Learning, over time, how to wield a solid collection of tools is a path to reseating confidence and fierce mastery within the masculine soul.

Arsenal

Most initiated men I encounter also know how to wield power for the sake of the Good. The masculine soul was created to provide in many forms. To heroically offer strength in love. To defend the defenseless and protect all that needs protecting. To spend himself in a worthy cause. To wield every weapon necessary to see that evil and devastation do not have the final word. A weapon is a terribly powerful thing. An initiated man has the ability and resolve to wield power only for the good; not power over, but power for; power in the service of love. It was Chesterton who said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” A pocket knife is the beginning of the process of initiation regarding the peril and possibility of power. To bestow a pocket knife on a young man—and to train him to wield it in love—is cause for celebration.

The tools, books, and weapons no doubt vary in the specificity of every man’s story. Yet the essence of the thing and its symbolic role in masculine initiation cannot be overstated.

Today was only a beginning for these young boys. But I can assure you, as the fathers observed the light in their sons’ eyes, the dignity and delight reflected there, the world was being changed. This was no ordinary construction site—it was a context for bestowing masculine goodness and identity.

It doesn’t take much.

A few buckets, books, and knives, and perhaps a little bit of belief that the boy needs the man to guide him through initiation. And no doubt it takes a good bit of love and a willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes to ensure that the next generation of men will one day stand on our shoulders. They will be better, more wholehearted men than we have become. They will love their women with strength, tenderness, and sincerity. Their families and tribes will be healthier and bring an ever greater good to those in need. Families will gather around dinner tables and linger over stories. Restoration will surpass devastation. Wrongs will be righted. And slowly, in unnamed ways, the Kingdom of God will flow ever deeper, eroding the kingdom of this world and the misuse of power.

Pause with me for a moment.

Call to mind the current condition of your tool collection. Picture what it looks like. Pay attention to what rises within you.  

Call to mind your current library. Pause. Linger for a moment.  

Call to mind your current arsenal.

Holy Spirit, what are you desiring to reveal to my soul?

I want to suggest that whichever of the three holds the most pain might be the trailhead of invitation to venture deeper, to be curious what your Father might be up to with an invitation into more.

It was said of Winston Churchill in his role as a father that no man had become more of what he had not himself received. What if we became what we most wanted to receive? What if the next generation became fathers because they were fathered with wisdom and devotion, perhaps by men who themselves lacked the privilege of receiving such fathering in the parallel days of their youth? It is precisely this sort of legacy that will manifest through consenting to the process of masculine initiation, through choosing the daring path of becoming an apprentice of the King and recovering the ancient way.(1)

A collection of tools, a collection of books, and a collection of weapons. To invest in this for the soul of a young man will change the world. Let Love guide you. Your Father is hard at work. Ask him what he wants to do for the boy in you and for the boy in your kingdom, through you. One of the great tasks of masculinity is to move through the grief over what we have not received and transition into risking confidence in our Father’s limitless capacity to provide generously even still. And in turn we can become the kind of men who confess in quiet confidence, through word and deed, because of my Father, “in me there is no lack.”(2)

Through God’s personal and profound abundance, we can become the kind of kings and the kind of fathers to whom he is delighted to entrust his Kingdom.

The greatest weapon in history’s fight against evil is the soul of a wholehearted man. Let’s risk together. With a tool collection, an arsenal, and a library, let’s venture deeper with our Father and restore what’s been lost, stolen, and surrendered.

Strength and Honor,

Morgan


(1) Jeremiah 6:16

(2) Psalm 23:1

The Gospel as Initiation [Video]

A wise man once offered these words:

In the larger-than-life people I have met, I always find one common denominator: in some sense, they have all died before they died. At some point, they were led to the edge of their private resources, and that breakdown, which surely felt like dying, led them into a larger life…. Instead of avoiding a personal death or raging at it, they went through a death, a death of their old self, there small life, and come out the other side knowing death could no longer hurt them.¹

What if all new life in us can only come through a process of a smaller life being put to death and a truer life being resurrected through immersion in a wider Reality?

What if the mystery of recovering a life that is truly life could be known through a vision of the Gospel as a process of whole-person masculine initiation?

In Fathered by God, John describes the first step of honestly admitting our current condition as unfinished men and opening ourselves to the process of God’s fathering and initiation:

We aren’t meant to figure life out on our own. God wants to father us. The truth is, he has been fathering us for a long time—we just haven’t had the eyes to see it. He wants to father us much more intimately, but we have to be in a posture to receive it. What that involves is a new way of seeing, a fundamental reorientation of how we look at life, and our situation in it. We need a process, a journey, an epic story of many experiences woven together, building upon one another, in progression. We need initiation.²

All true initiation embodies the themes of both agony and ecstasy, triumph and defeat, pain and pleasure. Would it be worth the cost if you could know, really know, through a process of initiation, the joy, happiness, and soul satisfaction manifested in the lives of the heroic men we encounter through the stories of ages past?

I want to suggest that this process of initiation and the discovery of an indestructible Life is available.

In this blogpost is a video from a teaching I recently offered at Discovery Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

Come with me as we explore The Gospel as Initiation.

For the Kingdom,
Morgan

 


 

¹ Adam’s Return by Richard Rohr
² Fathered by God by John Eldredge

 

The Daybreak Prayer

A broken air conditioner and the scorching heat of the New Mexican summer sun left us no choice but to roll down the windows of our old truck, letting the wind whip through. From the center bench, poised like a king on the throne of his blue car seat, my four-year-old son sang the words of our favorite country song at the top of his lungs.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

Even in the whipping wind, I was impressed with my hunting partner’s vocals. I won’t ever forget the joy. Our mission (so I thought) was to chase Javelina in the wilderness of southern New Mexico, me with bow and arrow and he as my lookout in the kid-carrying backpack. But looking back, what the Father was bringing on that trip was much more than meat for the freezer. Years later, I’m just beginning to see how sacred those hours of car time were for connection with my son and his soul’s formation.

A decade later, I can see the transforming possibility of seizing the daily car time Cherie and I still have now with 13-year-old Joshua and 10-year-old Abigail. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a bit more of what makes car time particularly rich. The field of neuroscience demonstrates that humans are wired with neurons that mirror the mental and emotional processes of other humans. These mirror neurons “read” the emotional experiences of others expressed through body language and emotional cues. Then the neurons in the observer sync with the other’s emotional state to create a shared mental process across an invisible space. Simply put, when one human attunes to another, he is able to feel, know, and experience some of what the other is experiencing as if it were his own experience. (1)

I see now that our hours and hours of car time are an opportunity to take advantage of the function of mirror neurons. As my kids and I attune to each other, we are forming each other’s emotional experiences. Deeper than words, this proximity allows us to place pins of orientation on the map of our kids’ interior worlds, heart-pins that could prove to be one of our greatest contributions to their direct experience of God and his Kingdom.

Over the years, the substance of our car time has changed: the VeggieTales songs and our own rendition of “People Are Crazy” have given way to sometimes playful, sometimes deep conversation. Our car time has also birthed an emerging daily prayer, a prayer co-created over time with the Spirit to be accessible and formational for each of our hearts.

Perhaps this prayer is best named as a sort of centering liturgy. What began as the Carpool Prayer has formed into The Daybreak Prayer. The first year, our 1.0 version was simply leading the kids out loud through putting on the armor of God. After almost a decade of formation, we’re on the 7.0 version. This prayer continues to work in us and we through it. With every emerging version, we feel invited deeper and deeper into God’s Kingdom.

As I listen to my children pray each morning, I am trusting that these realities are being threaded into them. I hope this prayer produces fertile soil and provides seed that will, in time, establish deep roots in both of them, roots that can weather seasons of plenty and also seasons of lack because they have been grounded in the Goodness of God and the reliability of God’s Kingdom.


We approach our Daily Prayer with four clear portions. Parts one and two, I (or Cherie) pray out loud, leading the family.

Part 1: Consecration

We begin our time with consecrating our kingdom—all that God has entrusted to our care. Each day we flow with this uniquely as we’re led; here is an example of what this portion looks like:

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, we center our gaze upon your great Heart and Love. We declare your goodness and generosity. We consecrate our kingdom to your Kingdom. We consent to you and your leadership and give you say over everything you have entrusted to our care. We give you our body, soul, heart, mind, will, and imagination. We give you our family, our home, our vehicles, our finances, and all of our relationships. We give you our schools and our work. We give you all our friendships and life and walk and calling. Everything we have and everything we are, we consecrate to you.

Part 2: Enforcing Kingdom Authority

The Kingdom of God operates on authority. In maturing as warriors, we learn to walk in the authority of Jesus, resisting evil and exercising God’s power to enforce the Kingdom of Love and Life in the particulars of the domain entrusted to our care. Again, this prayer is unique each day, but here is an example of what this portion looks like:

Father, thank you that through the death of Jesus, you have disarmed the power, authority, and rule of evil. Through his resurrection and ascension, you have established your authority over all creation. Jesus, our brother and King, thank you for granting to us all the authority granted to you by our Father. (2) We choose to take our place in your authority. We enforce your Kingdom in our kingdom. We enforce your rule. Through Jesus crucified, resurrected, and ascended, we enforce God’s authority in our kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Jesus, we agree with your intentions, and we give you full say over everything you’ve entrusted to us. We intentionally open the gates of our kingdom to your Kingdom. (3)

Part 3: Our Liturgy

After we follow God’s lead in consecrating our kingdom and enforcing God’s Kingdom authority in our kingdom, we thoughtfully pray this prayer, together and out loud:

Father, thank you that our story begins with you and ends in the restoration of all things. (4)  

We choose to trust that you love us with the same love you have for Jesus. (5) Therefore we will not to give way to fear. (6)

We agree with who you are. We agree with what you are doing. We agree with how you are doing it. (7)

We ask for a revelation of your affection today. (8)

We ask that you would make the impossible possible. (9)

We put on the armor of God: (10)

The shoes of the Gospel

The belt of truth

The breastplate of righteousness

The helmet of salvation

The sword of the Spirit

The shield of faith.

We choose to wield these weapons at all times in the Spirit.

We accept your acceptance of us. (11)

We choose to live in the present moment. (12)

We ask for a wise and discerning heart. (13)

We unite our heart with your heart. (14)

We choose to listen to your voice. (15)

We ask you to father us and mother us today. (16)

We ask that in all things in us and through us, your Kingdom would come and your will would be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (17)

We declare the truth that whatever I have and wherever I am, I can make it through the One who makes me who I am. (18)

Part 4: Listening

Now that we have consciously united our souls with God’s presence, life, and love, we conclude each time of prayer with listening.

God, how else would You have us pray today? What do You want to speak to us today? (19)


This choice of investing in a daily family prayer has become one of the foundations of our faith. Its evolution over time is a testament to the always-fresh experience of venturing ever deeper into God’s Kingdom. The repetitive portion roots us beyond the day’s drama and deeper than the day’s circumstances. The fluid portion keeps us rooted in a moment-by-moment life in the Spirit, who is always leading us personally and uniquely. This combination seats our souls in the life of God, transcending the present moment and cultivating a posture of both curiosity and confidence deep within our souls.

My prayer is that, in the days and decades ahead, these pins on the heart-maps of our children will be there for them when they most need God and his Kingdom. My hope is that while this time of prayer authentically models life in God’s Kingdom, it will also open for our kids their own direct access to and connection with the life and power of God.

The season of driving our kids to school will be over before we know it. In a few short years, our son will be driving himself and his sister to school. Yet we are praying that the seeds of the with-God life are being planted in them and in us both for this age and for the age to come.

I invite you give the Daybreak Prayer a go for a season.

Part One – Consecrating

Part Two – Enforcing

Part Three – The Daybreak Prayer

Part Four – Listening

I’ve recorded Part Three above as a stand-alone prayer. You may find it helpful to press play and pray along with this audio until it is written on your hearts and becomes your own. Hopefully it will be helpful to you as we stand together, with our families, daily contending as one for the Gospel of life.

For the Kingdom,
Morgan

Footnote: Download a PDF of The Daybreak Prayer if you’d like to have it in hand to pray it and enjoy being unplugged from digital devices.

 


(1) My initial exposure to this concept of mirror neurons was through The Social Animal by David Brooks. This soul-filled, creative narrative is an amazing access point to neurobiology and how it shapes our days and our decades. Pages 39 and 40 present the heartbeat of his case.
(2) Matt. 28:18
(3) Ps. 24:7
(4) 2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:5
(5) John 17:23
(6) Ps. 27:14
(7) Ex. 3:13
(8) Eph. 3:19
(9) Matt. 19:26
(10) Eph. 6:13-18
(11) Eph. 1:6
(12) Matt. 6:34
(13) 1 Kings 3:9
(14) John 17:21
(15) John 10:3
(16) Rom. 8:15-17, Isa. 66:12-13
(17) Matt. 6:10
(18) Phil. 4:13
(19) John 8:47

Note: Other powerful prayers can be found through the Ransomed Heart app. John, thank you for modeling the power and possibility of a Daily Prayer over the last two decades. This daily liturgy has served as an anchor for my soul through both calm and stormy seas.

Anything, Anywhere – The Four Primary Questions for Masculine Initiation

His joy was infectious.  And every circumstance and every outcome of this moment was not conducive to joy.  Paul was a beaten, broken man.  He had suffered physical abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse. He was lonely, cold and imprisoned.

And nothing could stop his joy.  After years of practice, years of training and years of consenting to something we can only name as initiation, he had become the kind of man whose joy and confidence and gratitude was no longer dependent upon either circumstances or outcomes.

When we consider Paul’s story, we see that he’d been immersed in the Reality of God and His Kingdom through both personal Divine encounter on the road to Damascus and an ongoing process which included fourteen years of which we know nothing of his life. Put simply, over time, he had been completely transformed. It is from this place he penned a letter to the followers of the Way, articulating this inextinguishable connection to God.

No man has made a more provocative declaration. Paul invites us into his soul. 

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Phil 4:12-13)

Here’s Peterson’s paraphrase of this passage in The Message:

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

When I pause to consider the essence of masculine initiation and the reality of how Paul practiced, trained, and learned this way of being with God—wholehearted—in the world, I am drawn to this application (or paraphrase, if you like) of Paul’s text originally penned by Richard Rohr. Here’s how it captures a vision of the initiated masculine soul:

Now that I have gone through my initiation,

I am ready.

For anything.

Anywhere.

You see, over a decade of training after his well-known “conversion,” Paul had become the kind of person who was deeply convinced of the reliability of God and His Kingdom.

In particular, he’d grown in confidence that an experiential process of initiation is available, one that can be trusted to effectively connect the human spirit with the active life of God. It was clear from Paul’s life that the fruit of consenting to the process of initiation is a robust well-being that transcends both the best and worst of circumstances.  

In other words…

Now that I have been so immersed in the true nature of God and His Kingdom,

Now that I have thoroughly put to death the self-sufficiency and self-preservation of the false self,

Now that I have been resurrected and restored into my true self,

Now that I have become, in my essence, what God meant when He meant man,

Now that I have become uniquely who God meant when He meant me,

Now that I have trained and become practiced in living a life in experiential union with God Himself,

Now that it is no longer the separate-I who lives, but the very breath, strength, and life of God-with-me who lives in me,

I am ready.

Ready for anything, anywhere.

I have passed through the death of my small life.

Rather than resisting death, I have endured the sting of death and discovered the truth that death cannot annihilate what is most true about my masculine soul, about who I truly am.

And now I live.

I really live.

I’ve been initiated by my Father to live in union with Him in a storied Reality that includes and transcends every other story in my life.

I have been initiated, in part, through completing a quest. A Vision Quest for the masculine soul.

Here’s why this is absolutely central to the masculine soul.

Almost every culture predating the modern world had a process of initiating boys into men. In some cultures, male initiation was intentional, deeply ritualized, and publicly celebrated. In other cultures, male initiation precipitated indirectly but with equal effectiveness because the survival of the culture depended upon it.   

  • Sparta 800 B.C.—At age seven, boys left their families to participate in boarding schools where both their strength and their resolve was tested.²
  •  In Iron John, Robert Bly reminds us, “… The traditional ways of raising sons, which lasted for thousands and thousands of years, amounted to fathers and sons living in close—murderously close—proximity, while the father taught the son a trade; perhaps farming or carpentry or blacksmithing or tailoring…”
  • The first boy’s initiation among the Maasai tribe in the Republic of Kenya is known as Enkipaata (pre-circumcision ceremony). “[Initiation] is organized by fathers…when the senior warriors are settled. A delegation of boys, aged 14 to 16 years of age, would travel across their section of land for about four months…The boys are accompanied by a group of elders spearheading the formation of a new age-set…The boys across the region will be united and initiated…The day before the ceremony, boys must sleep outside in the forest…Once the boys become warriors they resume responsibility of security for their territory.³

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. So it is with male initiation. In historical eras when most of a community’s effort was focused on securing food, clothing, shelter, and safety, the survival of a community depended on the hearts of its members being able to live beyond their own self-interest; the survival and flourishing of an individual apart from his people was as inconceivable as it was impossible. A mantra of “each man for himself” was untenable. Each man had to be for the whole, not only for the self. The heart of the warrior willing to spend himself on behalf of the good of the whole was essential.

We live in different times. Every age faces unique challenges and assaults against the flourishing of the human soul. And every age offers a unique possibility for salvation as whole people, both individually and communally.

For thousands of years, Aboriginal boys living near Kojunnup, “the place of the stone ax” in Australia, were led out at the conclusion of their initiation rite to create a stone axe. Returning to the community with axe in hand, they embodied a new reality that they were also soulfully equipped to wield “power on behalf of the good of the community.”⁴

Backed by the prooftext of history, I offer a bold proposition:

The lack of consistent and intentional male initiation is one of the most destructive omissions of our age.

It is why, when we look around in our stories and upon the earth, we can see the devastating impact of uninitiated men accumulating power that is not wielded for the good of the community.

“What we have now is a world of uninitiated men. Partial men. Boys, mostly walking around in men’s bodies, with men’s jobs and families, finances, and responsibilities. The passing on of masculinity was never completed, if it was begun at all. The boy was never taken through the process of masculine initiation.” John Eldredge, Fathered by God

But this is not the final word.

I am banking much of my life on this idea as well:

The Father’s ongoing initiation of the masculine soul has the final word. And inviting us and guiding us through this process of masculine initiation is mostly what God is up to in the life of every man.

In every great story, there is both a rescue and a way back to life.

And as Dallas reminds us, God is perfectly capable of saving the world He created. He is at work, here, today.

I want to suggest that one of the primary ways God is saving the hearts of men, the earth, and all of humankind is through reconstituting patterns of male initiation and specifically, particularly, around the centerpiece of the Vision Quest.

Without a vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

To be precise, without a revelation, without an intimate heart-knowing of Reality, the human heart will suffer deeply.

The Vision Quest was intended to be the heartbeat of the journey a boy took through his early years, his teenage years, and into manhood.

And it is a journey that empowers the masculine soul to grow and mature into full manhood, empowering a man to live from a Source beyond himself for the good of the whole community.

It is a journey that cannot be fast-tracked or industrialized.

Yet it is a journey available to every man in every season—if he is willing to respond to God’s invitation.

The Vision Quest is the path to becoming the kind of man who can say with confidence,

I am ready.

For anything, anywhere.

In its essence, the Vision Quest is a God-led, God-bathed, God-initiated process that requires both our response and our interactive participation.

It is a story that both transcends and includes every other story of our life.

And it is a quest that can sufficiently speak to—among other things—four deep questions of the masculine soul:

What is God like?

Walter Bruggemann came to the conclusion that “God is wild, dangerous, unfettered and free.” Tozer took it even deeper, suggesting that “God is a person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may.” What is God really like? What is His nature, personality, quality, and Way?

What is the story in which I find myself?

G. K. Chesterton said, “We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and and end, we have plot and characters…” What is that Story, the nature of Reality?

Who am I?

Chesterton also said that “we are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have forgotten what we truly are.” What does it mean to be made in the image of God, as a man? How do I uniquely bear the image of God? It is only by wrestling with this deeply soulful question that we will become who we were born to be.

What is my frontier?

Howard Macey offers the idea that “the spiritual life cannot be made suburban, it is always frontier. Those who choose to live in it must not only accept it, but even rejoice that it remain untamed.” If we are being made ready to be entrusted with God’s Kingdom to rule for all of eternity, what preparation and training has He appointed for this season and this story? What is this personal soul-forging edge of my journey toward integration and union with God?

Central to the heart of the Father is to beckon the boy forward through exploring these four questions and, through active exploration, to become as Jesus was: a man who grows in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.

It is through engaging in a Vision Quest and completing our initiation that we become whole-hearted men.

The boy will become like Paul and Nehemiah and Joseph and Jesus Himself. In spite of unprecedented challenges, he will become like a few others who, in each age of human history, have become initiated men.

The boy will become the kind of man who can say,

How will you  respond to the Father’s leading and invite the boys in your home and redemptive community deeper into this Vision Quest?

We cannot offer what we have not become. Therefore, perhaps the more central question we must be asking is this:

How will you respond to the Father’s invitation to the boy within your own soul to be led by Him through the initiation process of your masculine soul?

Let an honest, interactive consideration of these four questions, over time, be a possible next step.

The choice is yours.

The world depends on it.

It’s always been so.

There is a way that is available. It’s an ancient path being rediscovered afresh in every generation.

God is perfectly capable of guiding you into initiation if this is what you want.

He is the initiator. And we are the ones invited, beckoned to respond to this wild love.

He is kind to wait for the question and desire for initiation to arise in the heart. He’s too kind to push. Instead, He waits, as Tozer says, to be wanted. Simultaneously, we can trust the particular pressures of both pleasure and pain in our stories to draw forth desire, for Love is determined to to see us all into full maturity (Ephesians 4:1-13).

Father, I want to be initiated.  

I want to become the kind of man who, like Paul, is able to proclaim in defiance of his enemies:

“I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret for being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want…”

“Now that I have gone through my initiation, I am ready for anything, anywhere.”

I invite You to lead me into what’s next in my initiation. And through my initiation, to become the kind of man who can shepherd the initiation of others.


I want to suggest that these four questions are the some of the most fundamental operation beliefs shaping our lives. The Good News is that they’re dynamic, and over time, our journey into them can align with Reality and mature into good soil and deep roots.

Here is a place to start. Pause here. Write down these four questions:

Who is God?

Who am I?

What is the story?

What is my frontier?

Let your life speak. Observe your internal world and your external actions over the last hour, the last day, and the last year. How would you begin to put words to these four questions, based on your observation? Notice the distinction between what you say you believe contrasted with the practical reality of what your life reveals about what you believe. Ask God what He wants to say to you in this place.

For those of you with sons, ask the Father how to lead you in allowing these questions serve as a central orientation for their process of initiation.


(1) James Finley offers this question in his teaching on centering prayer.

(2)  Times Magazine, “The Many Ways Society Makes a Man,” September 26, 2017

(3) Maasia-Association.org

(4) Adam’s Return, by Richard Rohr

 

Living on 15 Amps

We’d gathered back at the WilderLodge after a full day of typical family life. Joshua stood outside to the right of the front steps taking a leak, making a large arc and clearly preparing for the snow he hoped would soon fall. After emptying our week’s plumbing activity into a 28-gallon portable tank, I climbed the three metal floating steps. Abigail greeted me inside by opening her pockets to celebrate the day’s bounty: two single-serve ketchups, three mustards, and a Chick-fil-A sauce. Cherie followed with the exuberant announcement of the discovery of another dumpster where we might be able to stash a bag or two of trash.

I took it all in, smiling from ear to ear, and realized it was clear: After five months of trailer life, we had become a family joyfully living on 15 amps.

“Sell everything but the kids.”

Dave Ramsey’s invitation came to us 18 years ago through Financial Peace University. It was returning to me now. Then it was hopeful sentimentality; today it was a preposterous reality.

On a Friday afternoon last spring, we walked out of the closing, having sold the only house our kids have ever known and given away most of the “stuff” we’d accumulated over 17 years of life together. If it didn’t fit in a 10-by-20 storage unit, it had to be JoyCycled out of our story into the lives of another. In this moment, we were the proud owners—by our culture’s standards—of very little stuff. Beyond the WilderLodge (our 32-foot travel trailer boasting a full 198 square feet of living area on wheels) and a pair of old vehicles, we were more disentangled from the world than we had ever been.

In the words of an elder from ages past, we had reached a joyful high water mark in our story:

“Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other.” Romans 13:8

We found ourselves being led one small step further into the consecrated life St. Francis alluded to:

“Wear the world as a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly.” 

There we were. The four of us, allotted a duffel bag, a large bin, and a backpack apiece, embarking on a new Kingdom adventure.

Very little changed externally. Work, school, community, place, mission—all remained the same.

But what changed was simplifying. Simplifying our external to allow us more energy to consider some deeper matters of soul.

So we could slow down and listen.

Tuning in to Love’s energy as we transition from one season to another in the story of the life of our tribe.

Trading three-digit utility bills for 15-dollar propane refills and life on 15 amps.  

Dinners by a single candle.

Flower arrangements gleaned from the wild nearby, displaying their bounty in a tin cup shot glass.

Living on top of each other, all up in each other’s business in the very best way.

Required to be thoughtful about many things we took for granted, like every bit of water and electricity we choose to use.

It started on a bike ride, at a nondescript traffic light. I put the question out to my buddies: “What would you do if you were in our situation, in an ‘in between’ of sorts, and were needing a reboot of the soul?”

JD responded, half joking, I think, and half serious. “I’d buy an RV and move into it.”

As the light turned green and we began to pedal, he added, “Your kids will never forget.”

That second comment seized me. The Spirit breathed confirmation into my heart in that moment. I was beckoned with an invitation that reason and rationality couldn’t shake. That evening, I brought the invitation home to my wife and kids. I expected Cherie to be practical, to graciously shut it down. Instead, she responded with a beam of light in her eyes. “Let’s do it!” Prayerful confirmation followed, and within weeks we were responding with curiousity to the invitation.

The research and dreaming ensued. Three weeks later, Joshua and I hooked up 6100 pounds of beastmode to our trailer hitch. In that moment, as the hitch reset under the load a good eight inches below where it had proudly stood only moments before, I realized that a GMC Yukon is in fact a car masquerading as a truck. Talk about junk in my trunk—our trunk was several courageous inches from the ground and looking like a plumber under the sink in an undersized T-shirt. We used every tool and trick in the book to re-rig it. I wish you could’ve beheld the scene. The specs are right: technically, my light-duty truck with a 5.3-liter V8 and a 3.43:1 gear ratio should be able to safely tow 6100 pounds. Technically, that may very well be true. But even after installing a trailer brake and a secondary transmission cooler, it was a pathetically entertaining sight for onlookers. We held fast in the slow lane of I-25, hazards on, watching a Subaru Brat, a ’78 Daihatsu pickup, and several minivans from the mid ’80s cruise by with ease. The saving grace was coming upon an old-school hippie RV creeping along without a care in the world. A guy leftover from Woodstock, with dreadlocks and one foot out the window, smoking something joyful, gave us a smile as we inched past. We gave him a shout out and conveniently positioned the WilderLodge in front of him to avoid getting smashed from behind. It was the first and only time the WilderLodge has ever passed another vehicle on the highway.

It was a risk. Not just the driving, but the whole endeavor. It still is. But the rewards are pouring in like spring rain.

To watch my kids hook up the 28-gallon portable sewage tank and empty it as part of our weekend ritual. To learn the whole of a system, to take ownership over our use of and impact on the earth.

To enjoy my six-foot teenager crawling up into a bunk bed to share a space smaller than a walk-in closet with his little sister.

To convince ourselves the kids don’t know when we’re making out a full 18 feet away, rockin’ those stabilizers.

To wake up in a grove of ancient Ponderosa pine trees every morning.

To simplify.

To pause.

To risk.

To say no to the world. And yes to adventure.

To let life be a little bit simpler and a lot more messy.

To be uncomfortable in every soul-satisfying way, where God has to show up and affirm He is in the center of this story or it simply won’t work.

To listen.

To really listen in to His leading, His prompting, His invitation.

To take stock of the costs, the sacrifice—and still say yes.

To realize we really can do it.

And to know everything that really matters is portable. Turns out you can pack a whole lot of love into a tiny little camper.

It’s soul goodness.

And it is always available. Every moment of every day.

We are being chased after, the Scripture says. Yet more often than not, I’m moving too fast to provide Love the opportunity to catch me. I’m convinced more and more that His chasing after me is at a soul’s pace, not at the world’s pace.

Our Father wants life for us. Real life.

He wants the impossible to become possible in Him, through Him, and always in the context of us risking love. In the words of Gerald May,

Maturing in receiving Love.

Maturing in giving Love.

Maturing in drawing closer to the source of Love.

Onlookers of the WilderLodge might think we’ve become Catholics all over again. Liturgy is a regular part of our lives these days. But it is less about high holy days and more around the microwave and the hair dryer.

You see, both of these modern luxuries require 15 amps. And that’s all we’ve got these days. For perspective, find the electrical control panel for your home. Turn every breaker to “off” except one of the smallest on the panel—welcome to life in the WilderLodge.

Through this holy constraint, when Cherie turns on her hair dryer, the kids and I have no choice but to power down everything and sit and watch.

When the microwave fires up, that means all lights go off. And we sit and pause and watch the glow of our simple little life and a frozen burrito go round and round.

Last night I looked at my daughter in the glow of our single candle in an empty bottle of Crown Royal, decorated brilliantly by the flowing drips of five months of candle wax.

I thought of the tears Abigail had had at the first hint of discovering one day we might not be living in the WilderLodge any longer.

I sat back under the glow of the microwave’s light.

And my heart was full, so very full of God’s Kingdom.

I never thought my admiration would turn to Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation and possibly one of the best movie quotes of all time:

“Merry Christmas! Shitter’s full.”

And yet, with glee, here I am.

Maybe comfort, convenience, and efficiency aren’t what they’re all cracked up to be.

Maybe Life is beckoning us in the least likely places.

Maybe it’s time to take a new risk.

To dare greatly.

Today we’re living on 15 amps.

Stashing trash.

Hoarding single-serve sauces.

Occasionally arcing it off the front steps.

And through God and His Kingdom in it, our hearts are being made a little more whole and a little more happy one day at a time.

Almost 18 years ago, we were led to offer this prayer from Sir Francis Drake, in the final page of our wedding program with friends and family.

Little did I know, nearly two decades later, that the words would become flesh and dwell among us, all in the context of the WilderLodge and this reminder:

Love never gives up.

Love never loses faith.

Love is always hopeful.

Love endures through every circumstance.

And Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)

It was our prayer on our wedding day for friends near and far. And as we arise today in the WilderLodge and this risky and Love-saturated adventure, it is my prayer for you.

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life, 
having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, 
where storms will show your mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. 
We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes, 
and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. 
This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. ”

Strength and Honor,
Morgan

 


 

Living on 15 Amps is dedicated to our friends, heroes, and adoptive parents, Ken and Kaye at Waage Woods, who graciously welcomed the WilderLodge and its four squatters onto their land and into the Deep Magic of the Ponderosa pine grove in Black Forest, Colorado. We are beyond grateful and pledge to bear fruit from the seeds of love you have sown into our lives.