He has slow danced with demons and courted disaster. Extortionists and plotters have been counted among his closest friends. Hastily supplied weapons-products of his environment-were the tricks of his trade. And when the worldís opinion of him fell miserably low, he found a new identity in a name foreign to his lips. Jesus. To his surprise, this Savior was intimately aware of his calamities and aligned him for freedom, for vindication.
Todayís African-American Christian; the millennium warrior whose battles arenít worthy of press. This man who nods at us in supermarkets and chivalrously opens the door at the bank, heís the one. The one we canít take our eyes off of when he enters a room; thatís him. Heís the well put together one-socially and spiritually. Whether married or single, heís someone in whose presence we feel comfortable.
Heís what 75% of American women are looking for-a good man. While the African American male image has evolved from common to complex-according to movie and literary renditions-the millennium warrior must dodge ill-fated stereotypes that threaten to lock onto him forever.
Is it any wonder his everyday struggle hardly causes a ripple in the routine media waves of murders, new laws, fallen officials and unfair governmental mandates? Only he hears the ancient whispers rehearsed and custom scripted for his defeat. They are subtle and intelligent foes. What he sees of his culture-as depicted in books and media-is often impossible for him to identify with. Because, in order to identify with it, heíd have to return to the spiritual Egypt from which he escaped. And heís much too busy being a role model for his own sons while being the kind of man his daughters would one day choose for themselves.
Thereís little substance and far less depth in the t. v. character portrayals designed for laughter, pity and for ratings. The liar, the cheat, the pimp, the side-kick, the kind our mothers warned us about; none of those cloaks suit him now that heís a new man. So, the warrior wonders if the image will ever be truly lived down as he waits on guard for the light to shine on his reality.
In the grand scheme of things, who really cares that consistent worship and strategic prayer keep his demons at bay?
He knows that the miracle gift of his career, family and settledness didnít come about because he embraced the American Dream. These exist because he one day heard the Lord beckon him as son. And that man answered with his whole heart.
Is he comfortable being an anomaly among people who approach him as if he just got out of prison or engage him as if heís supposed to be the worldís next black comedian? He takes it all in stride knowing that the peculiarity the Bible speaks of is a valued badge of honor and not just a trendy notion.
Go ahead, ask him his life story.
Itís an edgy drama of stolen kisses, a strong mama or an absent one. Tough buddies, escaped justice, lusty temptations, gripping vices and near misses; itís all in there.
Of course he doesnít look the part of a dope dealer, alcoholic or a skirt-chasing ďdogĒ. Heís changed. Heís your brother, your son or nephew, co-worker, neighbor. Truth be known, his sins were wrapped in a neat package of repentance and thrown immediately into the sea of forgetfulness.
But his demons remain wild and loose roaming the landscape of his world ready to engage him in the territorial battle for his soul.
Donít count this man as some bench-warmer with no fight. His struggle leaves him battle worn on a daily basis. When his vices, demons and temptations ally against him, he must fight to maintain the standard of excellence in attitude, in spirit and outlook his God requires. He carries the hopes and the predictions of family and community on his shoulders like no other man. This man values his soulís place in eternity more than his skinís return to the dust from which it came.
Perhaps this is the reason the Lord knighted such a warrior; someone born in obscurity who will rise to greatness. Someone bred to battle upward and win.
Valorie M. Taylor is a bible study teacher, conference lecturer and author of Secrets of Gingerbread Men from Sadorian Publications (ISBN: 0-970-01027-3) in stores February, 2001 or by calling 919-225-4387 to reserve a copy. The opinions expressed are those of the author. This article is used by permission.