Barbarians always go big; big appetites—we love thanksgiving, any reason to feast—big adventures, big spenders, big tires on big trucks— Go big or go home girly man! If the barbarian finds something they like they can’t get enough of it.
I discovered this about myself early on; I call it an addictive personality, when I like something I want more— more, more, more. This is not good when you are talking about drugs or alcohol especially. There was a time when I had to drink the most, smoke the most, party the most, and indeed it took a miracle to free me from those addictions. But I have also been that way with other things; fishing, rappelling, hunting, hiking in the mountains… once I discovered something new and exciting I couldn’t get enough. This wasn’t necessarily bad but it kind of worried me in my early days of walking with the Lord because when I was set free from the destructive addictions to drugs and drink by the overwhelming love of Jesus, I couldn’t get enough of him. I devoured the Bible, I went to church two or three times a week and took part in every church sponsored event or program I could.
I went a little overboard. I was indeed a barbarian new to the Kingdom and I was going to pillage every nook and cranny of it and get everything I could out of it and gather as many as I could into my ship to help me conquer more. This wasn’t necessarily bad either, what worried me was that I was afraid that I was going to get tired of Jesus and loose interest. Like I said, I knew how I was, ‘Gimmee, gimmee, more, more, more, …okay I’m so over that, I’ve squeezed every ounce of fun out of that one, let’s move on.’ I feared this for many years, wondering when I was going to overdose on Jesus, wake up and realize that it wasn’t doing it for me anymore, and just move on—or move back.
It’s been over thirty years now since I got zapped by the Holy Spirit and caught fire for Jesus and guess what? I haven’t gotten tired of him yet, because he is my strength and without him, nothing else has any real meaning or value. Nothing can satisfy me or bring peace to my soul apart from Jesus. I cannot hold on to anything good without the strength of Jesus and I cannot avoid succumbing to everything bad without the strength of Jesus. He alone has satisfied my soul.
However, I have gotten tired of a lot of the church stuff as I got to the point where I became totally saturated with everything churchy, losing focus on what was truly important, losing that simplicity of purpose the barbarian is supposed to exemplify and getting caught up in the games of organized religion and taking part in too many, what I call ‘bless me’ programs, either as the leader or as the consumer. The consumer shows up, looks at the leader and says, ‘Here I am, how can you bless me today?’ People expect way too much out of leaders, who may be expecting way too much of themselves as they try to emulate or recreate a powerful move the Holy Spirit may have orchestrated at some point through them; ‘Well it worked before surely it will work again’. That’s how rituals are born and rituals are religion and religion is of man.
As soon as we think we have it figured out or that we are amazing ministers, teachers, worship leaders, dramatic arts people—whatever—we stop depending on or allowing the Lord to do the amazing part and we become just another poser—a false prophet, or an entertainer. We must find, and keep finding, our strength in the Lord. Or we will end up face down in a bowl of gruel. There’s a scene in the cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian movie that keeps coming back to me, (maybe because I have so often felt this way) Conan has somehow come into some money so he ends up in this little trading post/village where there are all sorts of exotic enticements.
The young barbarian has never seen anything like this before and he goes hog wild, sampling everything to his heart’s content. After a couple of days of nonstop partying he is sitting down to have a bowl of gruel (or something) and he passes out from exhaustion and drunkenness, face first into his bowl. Fortunately, his friend sitting next to him grabs him by the hair and pulls him out of his soup before he drowns.
I have felt like that, partying all night, brooding at sunrise because the party is coming to an end and I am still not satisfied. The thrill I thought I would achieve eluding me once again, the girl I was crushing on going home with someone else, the emptiness overwhelming as I face another day, hung-over, broke, and alone. Just another barbarian trying to force a good time—to find satisfaction.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12 NKJV
But I have felt like that in the church also, trying to force satisfaction into my soul; working, working, working, to advance the Kingdom through the church. Expending all my time and energy in whatever I was involved in—vacation Bible schools, camps, worship seminars, marriage seminars, bible studies, classes; fixing, building and maintaining church buildings—till I felt shell shocked and exhausted ready to pass out in my soup. Always while hoping it would attain for me a higher sense of the presence of God, trying to take the Kingdom by force—force of will and action that amounted to violence against my own sanity—climbing the church ladder to success; a success measured by recognition, position, salary, an office and a following.
I kept throwing myself out there hoping, that it would finally get me to the place where someone would come along and say, ‘Okay, now it’s time to do what you are supposed to be doing and here it is, here’s your fulfillment.’ I thought my ultimate reward would be permission and release to
do what I believed I was truly gifted and called by the Spirit of God to do, that someone important would recognize my potential. The worst part is, I really thought someone else—those I was taught to submit to—would hear what it was I was supposed to be doing and where.
Be the Hunter
It doesn’t happen that way, you cannot earn your satisfaction and no one is going to hand it to you, let alone tell you specifically where to find it. The soul satisfying direction and purpose that God has specifically for you can come only from God—peace can come only from God, peace in purpose and peace of mind. You can’t go to enough programs and seminars to attain a higher spirituality let alone a real peace, it is something that happens between you and God through Jesus by his Holy Spirit. It can happen in the midst of a crowd, but only because God managed to break through the noise and distractions enough to get your attention; ‘Here I am, walk with me.’ ‘Stop running in circles like you are trying to herd cats and become the hunter—quietly pursuing me with your eyes open, your ears tuned to the slightest sound of my voice and your nose smelling the change of the winds and seasons as I move silently through the woods.’
Be the barbarian.