restoring a man’s identity
Sonship:Restoring a Man’s Identity
© 2016, Jay Cookingham
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"Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted." - Groucho Marx
We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and
manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to
suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the
open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see
and judge for themselves in the presence of God.
2 Corinthians 4:2 MSG
The fake disguise affectionately known as Groucho glasses are
one of the most familiar silly faces recognized across the world.
For decades this false glasses, nose and mustache combo have been
worn by famous and ordinary faces alike. They’re funny looking and
provide a good natured laugh or chuckle for most everyone. Still, I
think they represent a deeper truth about humanity.
People seem especially gifted at wearing masks and using them to
hide. The goal of a mask wearer can be to cover up the past, to mislead,
or to please people. This cover up is an issue because of a yearning
in all of us for recognition, and for our story to mean something. We
desperately want someone to know who we are. The problem with
masks is that they blur the line between the cover-up and discovery.
Like seeing the Groucho mask on someone, We know something is
off, but exactly what that is eludes us.
Society expects men to hide their weaknesses behind masks of
distrust, coolness, remoteness, or portraying an image of someone
they are not. Further confusing the issue is the fight of the false
expectations of others. These expectations beg us to wear masks to
avoid labels from family, friends, co-workers and the image they
want us to project. Mask wearing is an exhausting cover up power
trip. The power is our imagined control over what others see and the
trip punishes us with loneliness.
I have discovered that many men have a masquerade problem
and embed themselves in an espionage mission. They have spent
most of their lives covering up, disguising themselves in fear of be-
ing discovered. The fear comes from having a misunderstanding of
their identity as men. I know this from experience.
My story of sonship started in a very dark place of abuse and
neglect. My dad’s assault on my identity was vicious and left me
searching for meaning. I chose the mask of a clown, masking my
pain and anger with humor. For years my father’s words, threats and
beatings echoed in my spirit and the caustic abuse pushed me deeper
behind the mask.
Growing up in an abusive home may not seem like the correct
environment for me to discover freedom, but this is where my story
began. It was in the context of living through this dark period of my
life that I began to understand the secret to sonship.
The secret was in discovering who my real father was. It was the
unearthing of the greatest treasure there is; a relationship with Father
God. This is the discovery, the encounter that completely changes a
man and enables him to feel free and alive.
When I met Jesus, my unmasking began. It involved forgive-
ness and rediscovering what it meant to be a man. Removing a mask
is not easy or painless but freedom fills the wounds with grace. It’s
risky to reveal what’s behind a mask, but it’s riskier to stay behind
one. There’s pain involved in both decisions, but unmasking is a
productive pain, leading to the abundant life Jesus promises. As you
experience life beyond the mask, you hunger for more and the cost
is nothing compared to the freedom gained.
For the King!
day 1 - You Matter
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises
of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJV
“Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has
no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.”
- Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life:
What on Earth Am I Here for?
In the movie, LOTR: The Return of the King is this wonderful
scene between Elrond and Aragorn. Elrond visits Aragorn before he
leaves for Minas Tirith and gives him the re-forged sword Andúril.
(Made from the sword that defeated Sauron and was broken in battle)
While Elrond is trying to convince Aragorn to embrace the sword
and his true lineage, this exchange takes place.
Elrond: You're outnumbered, Aragorn. You need more men.
Aragorn: There are none.
Elrond: There are those who dwell in the mountain.
Murderers. Traitors. You would call upon them to fight?
They believe in nothing. They answer to no one.
Elrond: They will answer to the king of Gondor.
[pulls out Anduril]
Elrond: Anduril, Flame of the West, forged from the shards of
Aragorn: Sauron will not have forgotten the sword of Elendil.
The blade that was broken shall return to Minas Tirith.
Elrond: The man who can wield the power of this sword can
summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth.
Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be. Take the
Aragorn: [in Elvish] I give hope to men. I keep none for
That last lines gets me every time I hear it. Aragorn seizes the
role as a symbol of hope for Middle Earth, but relinquishes the life
he has been living (the life of an unnoticed Ranger, living in the
shadows) and undertakes a mission that may kill him. When he
accepts the sword Andúril, he accepts his destiny. He will spend his
hope on the cause and rescue a kingdom.
Men, you are a legendary creation and following Jesus is no ordinary
calling. Your life matters because God says it does. You are on a holy
mission, a commission and an epic journey to rescue others. Your
heart, forged in the fire of the Father’s love, moves you to love like
Him. Your life matters, it was designed to be so from the beginning.
This is who you are meant to be, a man—God’s son—a man after
His own heart.
Put away the Ranger, the part of you that drifts from your destiny,
become a man who follows hard after his King.
Questions to reflect on
Do you feel you have drifted from your destiny?
Are you embracing all God has called you to?
What hope can you bring to the world?
Father, hear my prayer!
I’m lost without you. My heart wants to give up without you.
Without you…My spirit longs to run away and hide The strength I
possess seems small without you. Without your presence, vision is
dim and my way is too dark to see.
Where can a man like me go but to you, oh giver of life? With
you my strength returns…with you my spirit finds the strength to
go on. Vision returns when my eyes set on you alone. I can rejoice
because I am exposed to the fullness of your love. I am set free in
your presence… I am set free in your presence… I am set free in
No good thing will you keep from me…your Word is good,
your heart is good, your way is good and they will not be kept
My declaration is this…I am yours because you made sure I
was yours. Thank you for your sacrifice, the price you paid…for
me! In you alone will I trust! – Amen!