A couple of weeks ago I attended an informational clinic at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. The ranch is nestled amongst junipers, rocks and irrigated pastures in the high desert of central Oregon, just east of the Cascade mountains. CPYR is a ranch whose ministry offers the love and hope of Jesus Christ to children and their families – through connections and mentoring with horses. The ranch founders and staff share “how to’s” with others considering a similar ministry.
The first pull on my heart to attend the clinic occurred about a year ago when I first read about the annual event. I was familiar with the ranch and its mission, and I love how CPYR shares God’s love. Yet, I did not see myself beginning a ranch or horse ministry.
Is this what you want, Lord? For me to share Your love through my horses? I asked these questions in the ensuing months. My heart simply told me to go, so I registered for the clinic and made my travel plans.
The clinic spanned five days of fellowship with the staff and attendees from various states and nations as we worshipped, shared meals, prayed and attended classes. Everything pointed to Jesus! It was wonderful!
I returned home in a sweet place of awe, wonder and gratitude for my God. It reminded me of the early days of my faith when all I desired was to know Jesus more. I smiled at returning to that heart place. I still did not know exactly what lay ahead on my journey, but I knew He always has in mind His best for me.
As I rested in that place of peace, I remembered in contrast the brokenness of my heart most prevalent in the early days of my journey – before I even knew the journey led to Jesus. I remembered an email exchange with my horse trainer. We had discussed the emotional trauma that was the root cause of my reaction to fear when riding my horses. I had shared with her thoughts on facing childhood pain in a way that offered healing, rather than just “getting over it.”
One line of her response stopped my heart: “I do know that God wants you to have all that you have had stolen from you and then more.”
I remember how I read her response once, then again, and again as something in those words snagged my attention. Wait a minute, I thought. “God wants you to have all that you have had stolen from you and then more.” What? God wants for me?! My mind got caught in a jumble of thoughts and emotions. It felt like someone had grabbed my guts and twisted. I thought God always wanted from me. He was a strict disciplinarian who demanded obedience. Stolen?! Did she mean I had not lost a part of my childhood?! It wasn’t my fault? This defied all logic of what I had been taught about God, had heard through the years about a judging and vengeful God. This was a picture of God I had never seen or considered.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV)
On that heart pause, a truth broke hard ground and encouraged my heart to soften and shift. It took another three or four months before my heart fully changed direction and I began to earnestly seek God’s heart. Since then, I have experienced in ever-greater measure God’s love poured out in grace and mercy. He wants for me. He wants all He is for me.