there's a way out!
I received the text at about 9pm on a Wednesday night as I was sitting with Donna watching one of her favorite romcoms on Netflix. I felt the buzz in my hip pocket, but I didn’t reach for it right away. “Who would be texting me at 9PM? Don’t they know I would usually be in bed by this time?”
After a few minutes my phone made the obligatory reminder buzz, and I reached down to check who on earth would send me a text right now. Turns out, it was an MPACT brother I had gotten to know during the course of the past year. I’d grown to love this man. He is a man’s type of man. He has a rugged outside. An avid outdoorsman who loves to hunt and fish. He grew up in the country, knows how to ride a horse, eats all kinds of fried foods, has been known to love a sip of bourbon and enjoy a cigar on special occasions and loves to hang with the guys eating wings and watching college football all day in the fall. He is always confident and bold in life and a very attentive father and husband. The past year I had grown to know a man bigger than life that seemed to have “manhood” all figured out.
When I clicked on the app and the text opened, it was to my surprise that he had sent me one simple emoji: not a single word, just an emoji of a purple unicorn with a rainbow tusk jutting out of its forehead. (I’ll give you a minute to check out that emoji on your phone right now . . .)
. . . Now that you've seen the unusual unicorn you can probably imagine my first thought, “This is odd. He must have sent this to me by mistake. If it’s not a mistake, why would he send me something like this with a unicorn? That’s not him at all, I would expect a horse, motorcycle, muscle man, glass of beer, pirate flag, football player, etc. . . . but a unicorn?” I thought about this strange picture for a minute, and I knew something wasn’t right. I texted him back with a simple “Are you ok bro?” His response was simple, but powerful and intriguing. The words were, “I’m ok now.” My curiosity peaked as I hit the call button and heard his voice answer on the other side. I asked, “What’s going on?” His response was, “I’m walking back to my hotel room . . . BY MYSELF. I am fine now, all because I sent you that crazy unicorn.”
He then told me of this training meeting in Dallas he was attending for three days. It was the final graduation and certification night for the attendees from all over the country with a fancy dinner before they returned to their home bases the next day. Drinks were flowing. He was at a table with his work peers. They were celebrating over some steak and lobster as they stretched the limits of their expense reports. He was sitting next to a co-worker from another state. She was young, single, attractive and . . . she had put her hand on my friend’s leg underneath the table. “I liked it, Trey. My mind was going wild thinking about where this could go. Then I thought of who I am in Christ, MPACT, our group, my wife and kids and I felt someone nudging me and telling me this wasn’t who I am, and I needed to remove myself from this situation. I remembered all of our conversations about reaching out in times of need, so I texted you that crazy unicorn. I had to let someone know of my temptation. It was so powerful to me, as I hit send, to know you were going to see it and that you would know that I might be in a tough spot. As soon as you replied to me, the temptation suddenly just disappeared. I excused myself from the meal with the others and now I’m talking to you, my brother in Christ. Praise God for giving me a way out. Praise God I had someone to reach out to and let them know of my temptation, before it turned into something I would definitely pay for, for the rest of my life.”
Our calling card verse with MPACT is James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. . . “
We founded our ministry on this verse. But as I’ve looked deeper during our 7 years of reaching out to men everywhere, my heart asks me how great it would be if we had someone to confess our temptations to in real time, at the moment of temptation, at the fork in the road, so that we wouldn’t need to confess to each other after we happened to cross that line and sin. Instead of focusing on how we've failed and screwed up, what if we focus on that critical moment and recognize that Jesus ALWAYS give us a way to turn from sin? THROUGH HIS GRACE.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
His grace, His Holy Spirit, stirred something in my friend that night so that he would reach out to me with that text. Jut a simple text of a bizarre emoji. Through that acknowledgement, he was able to turn from sin because he turned to and listened to HIM who abides in him. The best thing about the situation is that my friend knew and recognized that God gave him the way of escape. How many of us either don’t look for that way, don't recognize it, see it and ignore it, or don’t even know there is one? Isn’t it amazing that HE ALWAYS GIVES US A WAY OUT?! Talk about the sovereignty of God!!
Since that night, the Lord has stirred several things in my own heart about our mission with Men Passionate About Christ. With the help of our brothers, we have established an awareness initiative for 2023 and beyond, it’s called,
“THE WAY OUT TEXT”. It’s a heart and mindset where we look deep inside and actually get real by reaching out with a text or call to a brother in those key moments, while they are happening: when temptation arises, when there’s a big decision to be made, when your temper flares and you may do something out of anger, when sadness hits and you’re thinking of turning to something to ease the pain, when you’re confused, depressed or out of sorts and nothing seems to make sense, or when you know you’re vulnerable. Think of the power we will experience to overcome if we are always aware to be looking for the Lord’s “way of escape” from the temptations we will experience in life. What a way to allow his grace to help us turn to him instead of sin and other bad decisions.
So, my friends, who’s that man you can text, call and cry with, laugh with, be angry with, scream with, celebrate with, heal and grow with? Will you reach out to him when you hit that fork in the road, to allow him and The Holy Spirit to help you discern, learn and make the right choices based on who you truly are? . . . God’s Child!
Better yet, who’s that man who will reach out to YOU when he’s tempted? Who can trust you so much that he will send that crazy emoji to you in the middle of the night so the power can will be taken away from that temptation or situation on his mind and heart? Who’s that man for you? I pray for you to find that man and be that man for another brother! Let’s come together to make that stand and show Satan he doesn’t have a chance when he tries to steer us in the wrong way, all because of who we are in Christ, through genuine Christian brotherhood and God’s grace, one man at a time . . . THE MPACT WAY! All it takes is faith, a brother and . . . a simple text.