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"He said: 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.'" -- Genesis 3:10

Many years ago when I first started hunting, there were really only two camouflage patterns available:  woodland green or woodland brown.  Most of the guys that I knew wore the green variety, but occasionally I would run into an old-timer who favored the brown.  Either way, there wasn't much choice when it came to picking out your hunting clothes for the new season.  You might get lucky and find the occasional Trebark shirt in the Gander Mountain catalog, but we were still a few years away from seeing the first Realtree pattern.

Things have changed in the modern world, and there are now more patterns available than I could begin to list.  And although I have my own favorites and I wear them regularly, I often wonder just how necessary this stuff really is.  It's obviously important to break up your outline in the woods, but I've killed deer while sitting behind a brush pile wearing jeans and a Carhartt shirt.  

My buddies and I have often talked about how camouflage is really just for the hunters themselves.  It gives us commonality; a way to recognize each other when we cross paths in the little stores and grills that mark the countryside where we do our hunting.  It is the uniform of our sport, and I proudly wear my own camouflage whenever I'm afield.

But thinking about camouflage also makes me think about how we as men often hide our true selves.  Adam hid from God because he had become aware of his nakedness, and men as a whole have felt naked ever since.  We fear being exposed as posers or phonies; as something less than real men, so we put on these personas that are images of masculinity, but are not who we authentically are.  We wear our camouflage not just in the woods, but in our homes, our offices, and particularly in our church lives.

Several years ago, when my wife first mentioned the idea that we should start going to church, I resisted her.  The idea of being around church people revolted me.  I wanted to be in the presence of people who lived authentic lives, who talked about real things that were going on in their lives, and who would say  more than "God is just blessing my socks off."  I didn't want to go into a building where I would have to smile and make small talk with people who would do nothing more than talk about the weather or about how good God is.

In the end, I gave in and agreed to go with her to church.  It was a life changing decision, and though she took the lead in the initial effort I quickly took the reins from her - sometimes gently, sometimes not - and assumed my place as the spiritual leader of our home.

We were fortunate in that we found a church home where we could share our lives with the people around us, and where the small talk is kept to a minimum.  I've also formed a group of men -- a "band of brothers" -- among whom I can be who I really am and not hide behind the camouflage of "churchiness".  I do not need to wear my fig leaf when I am with them, and though getting to this point has been a struggle, it has been one that was worth undertaking.

There are a couple of books that have helped me along my way.  I highly recommend John Eldredge's Wild at Heart and Fathered by God. Erwin McManus also wrote a keeper in The Barbarian Way.  These books have helped me to understand what freedom in Christ is all about, and they have helped me to remove my camouflage and move toward a more authentic life.

Action Point:  What kind of camouflage do you wear as a man?  As a Christian?  Ask God to help you take off that camouflage and lead you into an authentic life where you truly experience freedom in Christ and have no need to hide behind a false self.

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