Thirty days ago four men huddled in a living room and discussed the various demands and challenges that Exodus would present over the next 90 days as we all agreed to begin the journey together. Where were we headed? The desert.
Exodus is based on a challenging 90-day period of purification, a dying to self, which is supported by a fraternity of like-minded men for greater interior freedom and, eventually, a more purified and selfless love.
We began our journey at the beginning of Lent so there was already a penitential aroma in the air, but this goes far beyond Lent and potentially much deeper.
The question that we all have, especially in today’s cultural climate, is “what’s in it for me?” We’re accustomed to getting the answer to this question rapidly and if the answer doesn’t satisfy us we simply swipe it away.
As such, I’d like to begin to unpack my answer to this question from the perspective of a married man with 5 beautiful children, one of whom has profound disabilities, a high stress job… and, oh yeah, a second job!
If you’ve glanced at the various disciplines each Exodus group takes on during the 90 days, it may appear extreme, over the top, or down right unrealistic.
Each of us had varying degrees of doubt before we began… but we made the decision to commit to Exodus and to each other. And, once we dove in, and the scales fell from our eyes, what we were most taken aback by was our initial fear, and disbelief, that we could in fact do this.
Here are a few of the parameters we’re following in case you missed it in Ron’s Exodus article.
- Cold-lukewarm/short showers
- No alcohol
- No soda or sweetened drinks
- No television or movies
- Regular and intense exercise
- 7 hours of sleep per night
- Plus several more!
Over the past thirty days these disciplines have become a part of my daily life with the help of God and my brothers. By carving out the distractions that unknowingly consume our lives everyday such as our phones, TV, and sports I began to see and experience life again.
I realized how my former habits created this constant noise in my life… and I just accepted it as normal. It’s been like putting on glasses for the first time and being able to actually see.
From this new vision my encounters with Our Lord have become profound and frequent. I’ve always had a holy jealousy of those that have had a relationship, a great friendship, with Jesus. This was always a desire of mine, but it seemed so foreign and distant, or just simply unattainable. Through careful attention to the disciplines described above, I’ve begun to finally hear Him.
He’s spoken to me through Scripture and other holy sources and I’ve heard Him answer deep questions about current struggles and anxieties. I didn’t need a theology degree to hear Him or even much biblical literacy for Him to break through and offer His friendship to me, in written words and messages that I could clearly understand.
Exodus is designed so that four men commit to the challenge together and thereby form a band of brothers… in other words battle buddies.
I would venture to say that most of us don’t have many close male friends with the common mission of encountering Christ. Divide and Conquer… it is a proven military tactic and the enemy continues to utilize it against Christian men.
Men tend to fall for the lie that we’re on our own and that we must provide for our families and climb the ladder of success in order to prove our value, and there’s no one there to help us. When embarking on the journey of Exodus with your team, you quickly realize how important friends are and it’s a component in our lives that’s often missing.
Through shared successes and failures, you begin to gain confidence in one another and achieve things that you didn’t think were possible. The competitive nature of men in this type of challenge helps to push you to continue on the path even when it’s difficult because you’re beholden to one another.
These friendships that develop between your battle buddies are of course a mere reflection of the grace and power that comes from a friendship with Christ.
Before starting Exodus, I was like most: stressed to the max, chasing my tail, and never getting anywhere. By casting off the many distractions that plagued me and gaining the support and accountability of my team, I’ve found that I now have the energy needed to give of myself to my family and the desire to share the love of Christ with others.
This longing to offer my life to others is the life that we’re all called to. A Eucharistic life. I was always frustrated with myself because I knew that this is what my family needed, but I never felt like I could catch my breath long enough to give anything to them.
Now, life has seemingly slowed down, and I truly am able to enjoy the encounters with my kids and can listen to my wife and begin to appreciate who she is for our family. The journey has enabled me to put things in their proper order even though I still have the same amount of work and responsibility.
Even though we’re only 1/3 of the way through our journey, I can clearly see the profound impact that it’s had on my relationship with God, my family, and the outlook that I have on the gift of life.
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