ABOB just finished our 7th men’s boot camp. The word for the weekend that emerged was clarity. What does it mean to have clarity? In the book “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge, he starts the conversation with a description of a trip his family took.
They were flying in a small plane through the Alaskan wilderness, in the fog, and could not see anything. It felt very uncomfortable and dangerous and they could not tell where they were. Suddenly, they broke out to the most breathtaking scene imaginable. They saw where they were for the first time with clarity.
The question of what it means to have clarity may be better answered by the revelation that we do not live with it most of the time. At least that is the way I can best understand it. Allow another example.
There is a man who has a family, works hard, gathers things to improve their quality of life, goes to church and is part of a bible study group. He has unconsciously checked off most or all of the boxes on the “Good Mans List”. It feels a little empty sometimes, but something in his head tells him to quit being selfish. How much does he think he needs anyway. He gets irritated by people who cause him trouble, and thinks that if they would just solve their problems, he wouldn’t have any. And each day goes by, pretty much like the last. The man becomes increasingly agitated with his life, until one day, in a state of desperation, lays the whole thing at the foot of the cross, and gets his eyes opened.
This man was me, and my life was lived in a very small story, and most of my days I was in the fog, unaware of the reason for my existence, or the effect that was having on the people around me. The opposite of that is clarity.
This last weekend, 10 or so years from that realization, I stood before many other men and told that story, and more, through the context of God’s story. I, and everyone on our team, told stories of their life, the fog, and the opposite of that – clarity. Clarity on the gospel. Clarity on who God is, who we really are to God, how he has called us up into his larger story, what it has meant to the way we live, and how much more there is to see that we have not received clarity on yet. God used our simple testimony and experience, but mostly he spoke directly to men, and they got a glimpse, and better, of the full radiance of the clarity God offers. While we have been called to tell our stories and testify to the work of God, it is God that provides the true clarity. He provides it as a loving perfect father, offering to his son what he needs to know in order to be initiated up into the story. What God did was nothing short of stunning.
The funny thing about fog is that it does not remove the world around you, it only blinds you to it. It is cold and wet, and causes a lot of damage to humanity as we try to move through it. Our reaction to fog is caution, slow movement, or just a feeling that it is best to stay put and not move at all. If the opposite of that is clarity, then clarity opens your eyes to the world around you. It is warm and penetrating, it frees humanity and invites risk and daring. It compels us to move.
The following quote has been overwhelming to me every time I have ever read it, and it is because it communicates to me exactly what God did in my life. It speaks to finding clarity. It also helps that it is a nautical reference. If you know me, you will get that.
If you do not cut the mooring, God will have to break them by a storm and send you out. Launch all on God, go out on the swelling tide of His purpose, and you will get your eyes opened. Oswald Chambers
A lot of moorings were broken by storm this last weekend in the Texas Hill Country. Clarity, desperately needed, was received, maybe even for the first time. Eyes opened. A realization that God has been there all along, that it was actually the fog of so many things that had made it so hard to see.
I am fortunate beyond words to be part of a team that can provide clues to the path out of the fog. I am overwhelmed by what happens when men see with clarity who they are, and who God is. I stand proudly as one of them, and I just can’t not talk about it.