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Frontier

March 10, 2010

I want to introduce a good friend of mine, Jeff Andrechyn. Jeff is the man who lights up a room when he walks in; he is an adventurer, and you can sense his kindred spirit. He is the man you want in the foxhole with you when all hell breaks out in a fire fight. He is a warrior, but he understands the need for joy in your life. He is the life of a party, and he always makes me feel welcome. Jeff has a commuity of men called “The Inklings” that write some amazing stuff. Here is one that touched me deeply. Thanks friend!!

Frontier

When Jesus and the twelve walked around Judea some 2000 years ago they were on the leading edge of the invasion of the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom has such a different value system that Jesus spent most of his time talking about it. The disciples not only heard the mystifying teachings about the Kingdom but were also saw its power in the raising of the dead, the casting out of demons, and the calming of the winds and the waves, and how it transformed the lives of those it touched. A close study of the life of Paul bears witness to just such a transformation. It reveals a man who lived on the frontier of the Kingdom with all its danger and reward. Paul’s life was anything but safe. Indeed, all the books of the New Testament came from men who lived on the frontier of an advancing Kingdom — they lived in it and on it, forsaking the comfort and certainty of what they had known before.

Recently, in my history class we came across a very important historical interpretation of our country that was written in 1893 by Fredrick Turner. He wrote the paper after a census was taken in 1890 where our country could no longer draw a frontier line out west because of our expansion. He called it “The Significance of the Frontier in America.” He concluded that the Frontier is what made Americans out of Europeans. He said the Frontier provided movement and fluidity to our country for 280 years and that this leading edge furnished opportunities of escape from the bondage of the past by providing a freshness and confidence that comes with overcoming its harsh but beautiful boundaries.

Turner said “The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industry, tools, and travel, and takes him from the railroad car and puts him in a birch canoe.” Turner explains that it was the frontier that shaped the American character and gave us: (1) Individualism (not mountain man stuff but rather the need to own your life and play your role because everyone is needed on the frontier); (2) equality; (3) open mindedness; (4) Democracy.

Movement had been the dominant fact of our country and the American intellect had to widen to new ideas and industry to posses the land. Turner said “The frontier kept alive the power of resistance to aggression and developed the stalwart and rugged qualities of the frontiersman.”

The west consumed the most passionate visionary energies of Americans from Presidents, to poets, and painters. The frontier was the future, a place of hope, and possibilities. The frontier had a different value system where the bonds of custom and tradition were broken and unrestraint triumphed.

What struck me when studying Turner’s paper was not the tragedies of an advanced American culture clashing with the stone age culture of the Indians, but rather what stirs in a man when he leaves the classroom of civilization and experiences the frontier with all of its harsh, unforgiving, yet spectacular beauty.

Its really important to look at this because for everyone in the Kingdom, God will open a frontier for them. The frontier transforms us from book knowledge to a warrior who is in desperate need of a King. The frontier transforms ideas and knowledge, to movement and union. The frontier provides the whole experience of hills and valleys that gives fluidity and movement to our faith. On the frontier you have to shed turgid tradition to travel lightly while packing only what is necessary to survive. Diversions and distractions (as happy as they may be) will be seen for what they are on the frontier, road blocks to advancement.

Before Jesus gives Peter his calling to be a “fisher of men,” He tells him to push out into the deep. Jesus knows we were created for the deep and this new life in us blossoms in its rich soil of faith. We will not really know the height and depths of Christ by staying in the shallows.

In Turners paper he quoted a response to concerned citizens who worried about folks going to the frontier; “But sir, it is not the increase of population in the west which this gentleman ought to fear. It is the energy which the mountain breeze and western habits impart to those emigrants, for they are regenerated.”

If you have been trained and God has opened a frontier, I would say “go west young man.” The adventure, regeneration, and beauty far exceed the risk.

To quote an old western cowboy (Jeff Shane) “The waters fine boys, come on in.”

Jeff

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Alex Dompe permalink
    April 2, 2010 7:47 pm

    Jeff,

    This is awesome. Praying your trip with Gary is transforming.

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