My son's friend dropped in to say good-bye on his way to basic training. I asked him what he expects it will be like in San Diego. He described the scene of "zero week" in detail: He will be told to "hurry up and wait." He will stand at attention in the cold in his underwear with a line of other new recruits to receive his set of standard issues. There will be paperwork, medical exams, oath swearing, bad food, too many pushups, and lots of hollering on the part of sergeants.
Bob ended his rapid-fire litany by saying: "I can't wait!"
This was a curious cap-off to a daunting scenario, and at first it took me aback. But I could discern, just looking at Bob, that it was something other than macho and bravado that prompted the enthusiastic declaration. Here was my epiphany from this brief exchange with Bob: A man needs to be a man.
What I saw in Bob-what first amazed and then delighted me-was a truth about how God made men. Men are most fulfilled and contented when they are pushed to their limit for a higher cause, rather than when they live in mediocrity and self-indulgence.
Left to our own devices, we tend to race to the bottom. And certainly the evidences of headlong plunge to dissipation are plenteous in modern culture. But the Bible teaches that you and I were created to be royalty, kings and queens, to have rule over the other works of creation. Therefore, we are never truly happy except when being what we were made to be:
"What is man that you are mindful of him? … You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas" (Psalm 8:4-8).
Next time you go to a children's dress-up party, note the little boys with their swords, shields, and soldier outfits. They are deadly serious. Do not mock them; they are perhaps close enough to eternity to have remembered something deep in its recesses that many of us have forgotten.