Friday, 2 October 2009

What makes a man? Part 3

The stark & disappointing message awaiting me on my doormat as I returned home read,'Commiserations, your ballot application to run the Virgin 2010 London Marathon has been unsuccessful.'

Every man needs a challenge, & my next big daring deed has just false started. Maybe my disappointment is compounded by the boys own adventure stories I've been reading this week.

In 'The Lost City of Z' David Grann tells the remarkable story of Amazon explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett, a British man driven by courage & obsession into exotic danger & mystery. As Grann attempts to follow in Fawcetts considerable footsteps, he starts by visiting the Royal Geographical Society, that archaic British Institution, steeped in colonial history.

Fawcett had begun his journeys as a cartographer for the RGS. Listen to the remarkable scope of their original vision statement in 1830;'to collect, digest & print new interesting facts & discoveries.....build a repository of the best books on geography & a complete collection of maps....assemble the most sophisticated & surveying equipment & help launch explorers on their travels..' All this in an age where maps of inland Africa & Latin America were simply left blank!

Their extraordinary mandate was to chart every nook & cranny of planet earth. A later President of the Society vowed, 'There is not a square foot of the planet's surface to which fellows of the Society should not at least try to go, that is our business, that is what we are out for.'

Many did go, many died horrible deaths from strange diseases, hostile natives, or were just never heard of again. Some emerged from the jungle as heroes to their generation.

I like these guys, something in their attitude makes me want to stand up & pull my boots on. They are the kind of men Jesus wanted in His church when He said, 'Go & make disciples in every nation on the planet, don't let anything stop you, shake the dust off your feet.' This is the original mission statement, & still the best. Paul followed it through shipwreck, beatings, riots, storms & imprisonment. Down through the generations there have been many outstanding Kingdom men who have followed these footsteps. These guys considered it worth losing everything for the sake of gaining the one thing worth having.

Percy Harrison Fawcett may have had more press coverage than most of my Kingdom heroes, but he never found what he was looking for. He eventually threw his life away for the sake of adventure alone, disappearing into the jungle with his tweed jacket & magnificent handlebar moustache. What an empty pursuit!

Percy never discovered what he was made for, who he was made for. If only his adventures had led him to truth. If only he'd discovered a man really worth giving his life for.

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