Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wild at Heart in Crooked Creek

I just returned from a 4-day escape to Crooked Creek Ranch near Winter Park, Colorado, where I participated in Ransomed Heart's Wild at Heart Conference for men. Having been profoundly impacted by reading the book Wild at Heart when it came out several years back, and experiencing even more transformation when I worked through the companion "fieldguide" a few years later, my expectations for the conference were high. It not only met them. I was blown away.

You know that longing you have deep inside to experience God in a personal way and know deep down in your bones that He knows your name and knows your heart inside and out and that He absolutely loves you more than life itself? You know that desire to hear His voice, to have Him speak to you and tell you who you are and what you are made for with a strength and gentleness that let you know you are absolutely the apple of His eye? Yeah, that. Well, that was what the weekend was like for me. I was blown away. I was undone by love.

There were 450 men at the conference. I met somewhere between 40 and 80 of them, and only five or so were not pastors of one sort or another. I was struck by how many Christian leaders were there. I had no idea that John Eldredge's work had reached that level of the church to such an extent. It was an encouraging sign.

The key theme of the conference--and really, of all of Eldredge's work--was to teach men how to authentically and powerfully live from their hearts. To dicover through Scripture and the power of story what it means to be a man after God's own heart, and to live like one. To make an honest appraisal of who you are and where you are on your journey toward wholeness and the fulfillment of your personal destiny in Christ--looking unflinchingly at the wounds deep inside that still plague you, but also at the splendor and strength that God has bestowed on you as His child--and to recognize the story that God is writing through your life, and the Larger Story He is telling around you and inviting you to join Him in creating.

Talk about grace! This event was all power and Spirit and the solidity of absolute truth--not just the truth about you (though that knowledge is essential to freedom) but also (more so) the truth about Jesus, and how living in intimate communion with Him is the path to letting go of all that holds you back from authentic life and releasing your soul to become everything it was designed to be. The teaching was practical, but in the grand view, it wasn't about what you are doing or not doing; but rather, who you are becoming.

They had cigars available, with a grand firepit in the main plaza, and every night many men would gather there and speak from their hearts to one another, while the aroma of their cigars filled the air with a rare spirit of unguarded brotherhood. Aside from the sessions and the many orchestrated times alone with God, those cigar times around the firepit were my favorite.

There's much more that I cannot adequately convey--of conversations I had with men who revealed secrets about their lives and hearts that would make your heart weep and cheer in the same moment...of movie clips from Lord of the Rings and the Matrix and Braveheart and Gladiator that forced an eruption of hooping and hollering from the crowd as men at last began to recognize themselves in those stories, and see for the first time how God has been at work all along in their lives to call forth the hero within them...of silent encounters with the living God that reverberated through my body with a force more palpable than any thunder I have known...and of an aroma of hope that saturated everything and everyone. The Body of Christ, as it was meant to be.

That's my brief synopsis. But don't just take my word for it. Go experience it for yourself.


Drippin' Reeds said...

Sounds awesome! I'm jealous! Did you get to spend any time with John one-on-one like you'd hoped?

Michael D. Warden said...

Yes, I did--though it was just a short exchange...hello, how are you, nice to meet you...like that. It was all that was needed, for me, anyway. I just wanted to look the man in the eyes. They were true.