I’m finally recovered enough to report on what happened at Men’s Vacation, our retreat that was this past weekend in Glen Rose, TX.
Fourteen men took time away from their work and families to drive up and create space for new friendships to form. Before we left, many of these guys didn’t really know each other.
Friday night, we got to our cabin and I went out to find our dinner. The staff at Riverbend were kind enough to keep food warm for us. And despite the fact that most of us ate dinner on the way, we enjoyed a SECOND DINNER (chicken fajitas!) around 9:30.
We introduced ourselves by name and talent (“I can fix things.” “I can grow epic beards.”) broke out some games. Mainly, Settlers of Catan and Yahtzee. We paused in the evening for a word of prayer and to introduce the weekend’s topic: Sacred Friendship.
Most of us men struggle with isolation. We have friendships but not much that about encouraging our walks in Christ or a relationship where we can truly be honest about how faith and life combine. This weekend would be about breaking that spirit of isolation down.
Whoever isolates himself, seeks his own desire. he breaks out against all sound judgement. Proverbs 18:1
Saturday morning came a bit early for our late nighters who were up past 2am. Fortunately, one of our guys has a talent for making good coffee! We started out the morning sharing more about Sacred Friendship and where isolation comes from (sin) and what happens when we try to walk alone.
We looked at this text in Exodus:
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting… Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. [Exodus 33:7-11]
Sacred Friendships emerge from knowing God’s friendship. I believed and trusted that God had a called everyone of us to break away from our normal community as Moses did and create a tent of meeting in Glen Rose. God wanted to speak us to face-to-face. We each committed to having fun that day and taking some time out to go and spend time in the presence of the Lord, with His word alone before we got back together for our evening worship.
Then for the better part of rest of the day, we ate good food, hiked, fished, threw the football, shot skeet and shot at each other on the paintball field. Christian men can sure be merciless on the paintball course! And while most of us wore several layers of body armor, we had one guy who chose to play Skins. Um… okay…
Most of us took our quiet time after dinner in the cool of the day. To see these men, all of them I had enjoyed getting to know more as the day went by, heading out to the woods with scripture on their minds and expectations of hearing for the Lord was awesome.
Our evening worship was provided by Austin, our youth pastor. Overcoming the awkwardness of being a small group of men, we sang to the Lord and I (at least) felt the Spirit fall gently over us.
Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. Exodus 33:8
In that passage in Exodus 33, Moses set up a tent to meet with God that was outside of the regular community space. When he would go up to meet with the Lord, the people from the community would stand at the doors of their tents and pray for him. As men, we need not only that face-to-face but friends willing to stand up and pray on our behalf that we would have a close friendship with Christ.
I know I need those kinds of friends in my life and I need to BE that kind of friend for my brothers.
We offered prayer requests—something we needed to hear from the Lord on and then invited other men to stand up on their behalf. It was powerful.
Then we talked about establishing a Sacred Friendship; where conversation about our faith is a normal and natural part of what we have together. We also talked about sacrificing our time and hearts to make it happen.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
As men who are busy working to provide, stay connected with our wives, love our children and have some shut-down time, it can feel almost impossible to find time to pursue Sacred Friendships. And while many of us would profess a willingness to “take the bullet” for a friend (our paintball matches proved this), are we willing to wake up super-early one morning a week to meet and encourage each other?
I ended our time asking the Lord to give us new and willing hearts to love Him as we love one another. I genuinely saw desire in most of the men’s hearts to be removed of isolation in order to be known by each other and the Lord. So I offered this invitation:
If any 2 or 3 of our men want to set up a Tent of Meeting and sacrifice time to continue to grow in Sacred Friendship, then I’m willing to invest my time into meeting with them.