"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have been made perfect, but i press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)
I had the honor of traveling with some fellow staff members to a place called "The Morning Star Ranch" to see what God was doing in this ministry. For those that don't know what this is, it's a ranch out in the middle of nowhere north of Wichita, Kansas by about an hour. It's a beautiful spot in the Flint Hills surrounded by nothing but God's beautiful canvas that He has painted. Trees and wheat fields mixed in with rolling hills and a valley that was carved by God's very finger.
While they do retreats and camps and provide work opportunities, their main task is to take young men from the inner-city that have escaped from lives of drugs and alcohol, gang violence, and rough living situations to come and develop a deeper relationship with God. They help educate these men about God and his truth and love for them. They also provide opportunities to work and learn new skills that can help them in life. For two years these men are being poured into, loved, invested in, and trained in leading others. And then....catch this.... these men go back to their communities and become pastors and valuable members of the church. They go back to the rough neighborhoods and the violence and the poverty. They go back. Insane!!
I don't know about you but sometimes i need a place like this. A place where i can go and really meet God face to face for a showdown of sorts. A showdown between my will and His. A place where i can really seek Him and not get pulled down by the distractions of this life. A place where i can go and just be in His presence and not feel like I have to be but want to be. Some of the time, church becomes a business instead of a ministry. It becomes a place of work instead of life investment. It becomes more about the numbers than the lives.
And so i need a place where i can go and just get away from life to repent and seek God and be with Him. I know He never leaves and is always there but I need help to see Him and to be with Him. I need help to remove the shades that have darkened my eyes. I need to get away. And so i need to escape. I need a ranch. I need the holiness and solitude of God to invade me and revive my tired spirit.
But this is the part I have to remind myself..... I have to go back. I have to go back to the "normal" life. Sometimes i would rather sit and hide from the world. I have so many fears of the world that i get overwhelmed and would rather retreat than face the challenges that come. But i can't do that. I have to get back in the race. I have to keep running. I am not done. Just like the young men that come to this ranch, i have to go back and do the work I have been called to do. And it's not about fulfilling a deadline or trying to reach a goal. It's about changing lives and calling others to the wonderful adventure of following a God that loves us and has more in store for us than we could ever imagine. And so i have to go back.
I have not finished the race.