Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.
Summer of 2017 was the first time Maria invited 5 of us to her cabin located in Grafton, IL for the weekend. The picturesque view of the Illinois River runs 100 yards from the front yard of the cabin. The environment of this countryside setting is like an invitation to the human soul for resting in a meditative state of praise and thanksgiving. But not without a full agenda of outdoor activity and a lot of laughter to boot. We spent the weekend studying the Gospel of John in the morning, then in the afternoon bike riding, hiking, kayaking, shopping, and horseback riding.
On Sunday morning we rode our bikes to a ranch for a 45-minute scheduled trail ride. I hadn’t been on a horse in years. The sounds of the hooves, and the smell of the stables, brought memories to my mind of how I have always desired to have my own horse. The gentle gate of the horse I was riding was therapeutic. I felt like I was being rocked to sleep.
The owner’s son was one of our guides. He was taking up the back of the line which was behind my horse. I started asking him questions about the horse he was on because I could tell he had a special connection to her. I asked him what her name was, and he said he wasn’t going to give her a name. I knew by his response that he wasn’t going to give her a name because he was trying not to get attached. His horse was for sale.
Our weekend together at the cabin was filled with memories. We cried tears of joy and awe as we encountered Jesus together in all that we experienced in both the natural and the Spirit. We returned to our homes infilled, fulfilled, and satisfied which only the Holy Spirit can do.
On Monday morning, Maria called me while she was on her way to work. She was crying tears of awe as she told me how the Lord awakened her in the middle of the night telling her that the horse who was for sale is named Sierra. The name Sierra means, mountains. The Lord put on Maria’s heart to buy her and said that Sierra is going to move mountains. I encouraged Maria to hang up the phone with me and call the ranch right away. I told her that Jesus is not going to change His mind and if that horse sells to someone else, we will spend more time trying to locate the horse, and more money purchasing her after she’s already been sold. Maria hung up the phone with me, called the ranch, then after 10 minutes called me back and said, “I am an owner of a horse.” Maria’s purchase was the birth of Hope Ranch.
Birthing a ministry is a lot like birthing a baby except the pain is not physical. The pain lies in the grueling thoughts from denying the flesh, submitting to the Holy Spirit, and walking in faith. Jesus said that to be His disciple we must lay down our lives, our own ambitions. This surrendering of our selves is followed by the suffering that Jesus promises He will faithfully reward His children for, and make an everlasting covenant with them from.
While the pain from the suffering of dying to our flesh is constant and real, so is the joy that comes in the morning.
God is good.