I believe that God is at work everywhere and all the time. That truth remains a tremendous encouragement for me in the context of the Ranch ministry. It assures me that when folks leave the Ranch, God is certainly still at work in their lives. We are only one of many tools that God has at His disposal to use.
It also challenges me that while I believe we are to be purposeful in our approach to ministry, there’s a lot of ministry that happens during the unplanned and unscheduled times. I challenge our staff particularly during our summer camp season to remember that opportunities for touching lives can happen while waiting in line for a meal to begin, walking from the bunkhouse to the barn, or during that quiet time following chapel at night.
God speaks of this concerning how we as parents are to teach and train our children in both Deuteronomy 6 and 11. Instructing our children in the things of the Lord is not just a structured time but perhaps more importantly a culture that is a part of the way we should walk through the day. Jesus’ word to His disciples, in what is called the Great Commission, speaks of this very same thing. We are to go and make disciples. The intent of the word “go” means “as you are going” make disciples.
Certainly structured ministry is appropriate. Planning is important or God would not have told us that we need to observe the ant to understand responsibility. But outside of the margins of life, ministry is happening. It does not always fit neatly into our planning or agendas. We might think of Jesus’ response to someone like the Samaritan man who adjusted his schedule to show God’s love to a stranger in need.
I was inspired once by a story my wife shared with me that she had heard at a conference. The gentleman was sharing about home educating his children and having them take standardized tests. I remember those tests well. You take your #2 pencil and fill in the circle of the correct answer. Then you take the overlay sheet with the holes punched in it that reveals what your answers should have been. The gentleman shared that his young daughter was very artistic but not very good at standardized tests. Her mind would wander or she would ponder her response to a question and would doodle in the margins of the test. This doodling was an expression of her. The difficulty was that when the overlay sheet was put on, it completely covered – in essence – her. He shared that his daughter was found more in the margins than in the test. I am certainly not against standardized tests, but the one-size-fits-all approach to things just sometimes does not work.
Ministering to others is not confined to schedules nor should it be confined by our expectations of what we think it should look like. You may be going to serve someone physically, but instead they just need a listening ear. You may have anticipated just visiting with someone, but found yourself meeting a physical need as well. When Christ was ministering to the masses, He was meeting their spiritual needs. But it was in the midst of this ministry that He performed one of His most memorable miracles by meeting their need for food with loaves and fishes. It is a challenge to me personally to look outside the margins of what I would call ministry to see where God is at work.
Miracle Mountain Ranch