They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I still remember looking through the scrapbooks that my mom made for us – snapshots of our immediate family and several generations before them. The old black and white photos gave us glimpses into lives past and each image told a story from a fragment of time. During the summer camp season here at the Ranch, the media team will provide up to 2,000 photos per week for the Ranchers and their families to see. They do a great job and work to give an accurate representation of experiences at the Ranch, but these photos never tell the full story. There are a lot of things that do not get documented even though they are just as impactful: a homesick child who can’t bring himself to play, a nervous young lady on her first trail ride, or bunkmates trying to resolve a conflict. You also won’t see the yards being mowed, the laundry being folded, secretaries doing paperwork, food being prepared, or machinery being repared. Great ministry often occurs behind the scenes. It’s a volunteer deepening her walk with Christ through an impactful conversation with a supervisor. It’s a young man understanding the joys of serving others and the blessing of accountable fellowship among his fellow Ranch Hands. I am one of those kids who came up through the ranks as a Rancher, a summer staff, an apprentice and then a resident staff member. My life was greatly impacted through each step of this journey but I don’t have photos of those moments. They are etched on my heart and in my memories, not in a scrapbook or database. Some of Christ’s greatest moments of teaching and ministering to His disciples were in the less than photogenic moments. It was in the midst of sickness, storms, great fatigue, enormous need, and ultimately in His full surrender that gave the greatest testimony of who He was.
As I was reading over the letters to the churches in the book of Revelations, I noticed a statement that is repeated in each is the Lord saying “I know.” He knew the condition of each church, both their strengths and weaknesses. God knew and knows the things we would say, both seen and unseen. He is present in the early morning hours as we prepare for the day and He is present in times of anxiety. He rejoices with us and grieves with us. God’s arm is never too short (Isa. 59:1). God is never unaware (Ps. 103:14, Daniel 2:22.) He knows. There is great comfort in that truth and also great accountability. I remember hearing an interview years ago with the personal assistant of Corrie Ten Boom. When asked what it was like to live with a woman like Corrie, she recounted a time when they sat in an international airport and heard the news that their flight had been cancelled. As she was thinking through all the challenges that would arise in getting Corrie to her speaking engagements in time, she felt Corrie’s hand on her arm and heard her say, “Child, heaven is not surprised by any of this.” As we look ahead to the next season of ministry at the Ranch and even within our own lives, it is so comforting to know that there will be nothing that comes into our lives that is a surprise to God. He will walk us through each challenge and blessing along the way.