So, what do I mean by “going vertical”, and why should I? This theme has been churning in me for months, probably years actually – long before I could interpret the vibrations I was feeling deep in my saved soul. Finally starting this blog feels a little bit like an old Bob Dylan song, “Slow Train Coming”, but here we go! Just before we take off into this, I want to say that this blog is for any hungry soul, wherever you find yourself in this life. My intention is best captured by a man whose life and words altered the course of my personal history:
“Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame”.
Tozer, A.W., The Pursuit of God, Christian Publications Inc, 1948
Now to the heart of the matter! I’ve pasted below a section from Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 10 which I passionately believe reveals in narrative form the essence of going vertical. Since I’ll be selecting partial verses for the sake of brevity, I’ll spare you all the references by verse.
…Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving…And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
I am convinced from scripture and personal experience that the key to life is to be aligned with “True North”, to use a navigational analogy. Literally that refers to the actual or Geodetic North Pole which is different from “Magnetic North”. True North does not vary; it is constant, whiles the latter changes from place to place and over time, and is influenced by various conditions. Going vertical is about discovering and living by Presence, God’s presence…our True North. All of the answers to our deep desires are found in His Presence, but we are so often distracted like Martha, even with good things, let alone the ugly stuff! I have known a few individuals in my life that had that kind of lifestyle of staying connected vertically, and those relationships were gifts from God that ignited a hunger in me to know God intimately as they did. And it’s been “a slow train coming”. My heart burns for God Himself. Holy Spirit reveals Father God to me by showing me Jesus and how He walked with His “Abba” or “Daddy”. And He (Holy Spirit) does exactly what Jesus said He would do when He came: He teaches me using God’s word, He reminds me of what Jesus has said, and He illuminates what is written so my heart can embrace it. Most of all, He unveils Jesus and Father God to me in ways that transform my life. He makes the love of God tangible to me, shows me who I am as a son of God, inspires me to dream and moves in compassion and love so that I love others. I love the Godhead! I am crazy in love with Them/Him…you know what I mean don’t you?
A bit on manhood, being a husband and dad…
In this season of my life I just want to be the real me relating to a real God; no more ”b-s”. And in that I have had the rich experience of sharing both my weaknesses and victories with a company of other men on a similar path. In varying degrees many of us have been so self-centered, so wounded in the deepest part of us, so conditioned by the culture around us, and yes unfortunately even the misguided intentions of many in the church that we have injured the hearts of others closest to us – our wives and kids. I find that our sins, weaknesses or failures come in two basic categories: those things we say and do, and the ones we fail to say and do (or be). Some of us men are certifiable “a-h” type, macho, insensitive, selfish, domineering, ambition driven, blind-to-ourselves idiots who really believe our wives are the servant-helper-call girl-nanny God gave only to help us fulfill our calling or vocation in this life! Then there are those of us men who were or are wimpy, passive, worm-like weenies so beat down that we have no holy backbone to love and lead like Jesus loves and leads the church He laid his life down for. I confess I have been guilty as charged of all of the above!
So, one among many compelling reasons for me to write about “going vertical” is that over these past three years I have interfaced with men like myself, struggling at different levels through marital dysfuntion, trying desperately to win back the heart of their wounded “friend”. As we talk I find myself repeatedly using the phrase, “you’ve gotta go vertical”. You see, the problem between me and my wife or you and yours is not the root problem at all – it’s between me and my God! Remember King David who committed adultery and murder? When he came to his senses he cried out to his God, “against you and you only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight!” Later he pleads from his guts, “don’t take your Holy Spirit (Presence) from me!” (Ps 51). What David! Are you kidding! Yep, he got it right. The heart of the matter is the disconnect we have with God. Incidentally, her issues are also more “vertical” in nature than “horizontal” ie., rooted in earthly relationships, me in particular! But… the kicker for us men is that in God’s brilliant order of things, we hold a place of headship – influence in her life that Paul compared to the relationship with Chirst and His church (see Ephesians 5). We as men have the ability to ”open heaven” over our her heart and mind that allows grace and healing to flow to her in a similar way to how Jesus opened heaven over us by laying down his life. When Holy Spirit showed me God as my Daddy and me as his beloved son because of Jesus, things fell off my life that had clung to me and hindered intimacy vertically with Him and horizontally with my wife and others. And when that truth hit me full force in the fall of 2009 I wanted with everything in me to please my Father who loved me at my worst, embraced me in my sin and selfishness, washed me and put His love in me for my closest earthly friend, my wife. And He keeps moving out from there to my family and beyond. So my brother, if you are reading this and anything here hits home, Go vertical! We were designed as men to have Jesus Christ as our head and glory and to find our all in Him. As I go deeper and deeper into this reality I find that He fills me with such unconditional love and acceptance, affirmation, value, identity, purpose…and on and on – whatever I need; so that from that ocean of resource in Him I have capacity to love my wife and others more like He does instead of finding myself reacting to what I perceive as their failure to meet my expectations. I am discovering deep peace, crazy love, ecstatic joy and boundless hope as I go vertical and do all I can to host his Presence in me, ungrieved and unquenched. More to come!