Two Tuesdays ago, we left the rollercoasters and joy rides of Coeur D'Alene behind to embark on a new and different adventure. We drove through fields and fields of wheat and along many desert-type canyons to be able to claim that we have seen the middle of nowhere.
Okay, not exactly.
But, that's how it felt when we first got there. That's how most people feel, I hear.
We spent 4 days at Jubilee Youth Ranch, where we witnessed and heard enough in that timespan to realize that we were actually...in the middle of God's grace.
Yes, God's grace in all its raw splendor.
God's grace, pure and unadulterated by self-righteousness.
God's grace, given freely, but at a dear cost.
God's grace, in every redemptive story.
It's not easy to capture with words all that we felt and experienced...all the redemptive stories that touched our lives...all the memories that could change us if we let them.
On our last day, as we got ready to leave, it was hard to believe that it had only been 4 days. Really? Just 4? It felt like much longer than that. Perhaps it's because we had had to process so much of what was happening around us. We had had to take our suburban-jaded lenses off and enter another reality as though blind...in order to let it change us. We were taking it all in.
As Shawn explained, most of the people working at the ranch have jacked-up pasts. They've tasted and seen God's redemptive power in their own lives and now want to spread that hope to others. I think of the staff we met...Jamal, Leigh and Rebecca, Tom, Darren, Mark and Cosette...there are amazing stories out there. But if you think about it, it's what we have all been called to do, really, this spreading of hope. We all have redemptive stories. We were all lifted from the mire.. We all should be living our lives as salt and light in the world.
And so, it's been my hope and prayer that we would not forget these people and this place, but rather that we would let it (them) inspire us to love the unlovable as Christ loved us. For while we were still sinners, enemies of God, weak and ungodly, He loved us (Romans 5). We didn't get our act together first because we simply couldn't. He did it for us and and it cost Him dearly--not us. Except He does call us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Follow Him as in 'do what He does'.
And what He does is GRACE.
It was GRACE that made the Broetjes found and continue to fund Jubilee Youth Ranch, Vista Hermosa, and several missions throughout the world. These husband-and-wife sole proprietors of over 7,000 acres of apple orchards chose not to hoard God's blessings but to use the success of their ingenuity to bestow grace upon others. Yes, lots and lots of grace on lots and lots of people (even adopting 6 along the way).