Brothers in Christ – Searching for Brothers
At 18, I left home unprepared and went off to a military college in Alabama. I went there to get away from home, find answers on my own, have structure in my life. After a year away, I came back to my home state and attended college. Partying was still in my blood and the pain would not subside. My roommate who was also searching, asked me to come to church with him one day. Sure, why not? That church held to another form of legalism. It was more of a social club and the men were comfortable with playing church. I was still lacking a true direction that would lead me toward God’s heart.
In that church at the age of 22, I met my future wife, Joanie. She had such a pure heart, which was so important to me. I had endured two important people leaving me and I never wanted to suffer that pain again. I felt that she would never wound my heart. We were married a year later and I entered active duty. Within the next four years, we had two sons. I was estatic. I wanted to always be there for them as a father. I didn’t want them to go through what I had.
The military took our family to Germany in 1987. My wife and I worried about going overseas and being in a spiritual desert. We quickly learned that it was quite the opposite. We got involved with a Bible study that had a spirit of unity and caring I had never seen before. It was a family because we had to depend on each other since we were all so far from home. Jim, the man who led the study, became my first true brother in Christ. He was a senior officer and had a distinguished career. In the world’s eyes, he had every reason to be arrogant and cocky, but instead he displayed true humility to me. After six months, he asked me to lead our Bible study. After I mentally picked myself off of the floor from shock, I quickly replied, “Yes sir.” I couldn’t say no. He was my senior and I respected him. After my initial answer, I thought, “What have I done? I can’t do this!” In spite of me, the Lord gave me the grace to do what He had asked and I loved it. Jim came along side me not only as a brother in Christ who showed me spiritual integrity, but as a mentor by teaching me how to dig into God’s Word.
Brothers in Christ – Finding Accountability
It was a period of tremendous blessing inside God’s Word and in His presence. There were truths that leaped out of His Word and into my heart. The book of John showed me how radical and loving Jesus really is. Every Tuesday morning we met with some other men for prayer. I couldn’t believe that a man of Jim’s position and stature would actually be that honest and open before God. He wasn’t afraid to let God know that he hurt and desperately needed his grace. Jim displayed true humility as he lived James 4:10, “If you humble yourself before the Lord, He will lift you up.”
Without his knowing it, Jim had come alongside me as brother in Christ to help tear down some of the walls in my heart. While still in Germany, a young Christian man named Jeff, came into my life. He was a lonely single soldier who needed a friend. He had had a rough childhood and came from a messed up family situation. He would just hang out with our family. Years later, when he was a husband and father, he called to say that he learned from me how to be a man and care for his family. I was blown away. I didn’t understand until then that I had been a brother in Christ who had come along beside him. Jeff taught me that I didn’t need to be perfect and have answers, but just willing to be there for him.
I was also willing to be there for my own children. Because of the three years that we spent overseas, I was able to spend a lot of time being dad to my sons. We didn’t have the outside pressures of the American fast-paced life. We were in a sort of cocoon. It set the foundation of our relationship for years to come.
Brothers in Christ – Help in Hardship
Being in the military, we had to move every three years, which did not allow me to establish long-lasting relationships. We got orders to move to back to the USA in 1990. The culture shock of the pace of life was exhausting. We moved in next door to a Christian couple who had a son that was near the same age as ours. Roy and I became friends, but I chose to not pursue him as a brother who could help me through some of the difficulties I was facing. He would have filled this important role if I had let him. I started to avoid the honesty of a relationship with a true brother and again thought I could do it on my own. When I took a company command to promote my military career, I started to drift because the new position took so much time and attention. My wife began crying out because I was only giving her the leftovers of my time and attention.
I decided to leave the military at the age of 32. I began to work nights, which was also a struggle for my wife. I began to hold on tight to the idea that my role was to work hard and provide for my family, but it was at my family’s expense. I hid behind the excuse that it was what I was supposed to do. I began putting my burdens on my wife’s shoulders and she started to grow weary from the load. Working long and lonely hours left me feeling tired, vulnerable, and isolated. I had no brothers in Christ and no accountability. I became depressed and I began building more walls.
Then I started to pray for brothers to come alongside me.
God answered and I met Roger, an 80 year old man, at our church. He was a very straight-forward simple man who had come from the back hills of Kentucky. Even at his age, he was still a man who was asking God to search and change his heart so that God could use him in his remaining days.
My wife and I were having serious financial and marriage difficulties, and our relationship came close to snapping. Roger was the man who silently led me through the storm without any judgement. He was a man of few words, but taught me patience as I slowly learned that the harder I was grasping, the more difficult and draining my life became.
In October of 1999, I visited the grave of my father. After 40 years, I finally grieved the loss of my father who I had wanted to know all these years. I wept. I had to let him go and stop looking for him. That same day, I visited my second brother Jake, who had given His heart to God. We are now brothers in Christ!
Brothers in Christ – Influence of Christian Brothers
My experience with God left me trusting Him, and desiring more of Him, but I knew I needed other men to journey with me. I am now surrounded by brothers, and they have taught me that I have to reach out to others as well. They have, in their own way, helped to heal the wounds of my life. They are the body of Christ to me. I never want to go back to being without my brothers. My life has been changed because of them demonstrating the love of Christ to me.
I have been called to be an encouragement to others as well. Just as God has brought men into my life to come along beside and encourage me, I want to give that accountability to other men as well.
I know that my Lord loves me and has kept asking me to press in and never stop. Brothers are a part of that. I challenge you to earnestly pray and seek out men to help open your heart to God. They are the body of Christ. The brothers in my life constantly remind me of the verse in Nehemiah 4:14 where it says, “I stood up and said to the people. ‘Don’t be afraid of them. (Your struggles, your burdens) Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’” They all need us. We can’t do it alone. My brothers have helped me fight the good fight. Stand strong. Stand among your brothers.