Our family had a very serious discussion: should we stay in camping, or should I go back into church ministry? Our conclusion, very much fueled by our children, was to stay in camping.
Ted Clifford invited me to have breakfast with him. He was the “oil and gas” business man who said to me: “I am like a steward – I take care of what the boss gives me till I get to the end of the line”. (IPWG # 91) Over breakfast Ted told me that if I would like to build and direct another camp/conference center, he would pay for it.
Clayton Bell asked if I would be interested in developing a camp/conference center for the Highland Park Presbyterian Church.
Darryl Coates, the building contractor who had developed Jan Kay Ranch as a rental facility for churches, (IPWG # 96) told me I could have half of everything he owned – except his wife. Darryl meant it!
These were wonderful opportunities provided by men who trusted me – in spite of the fact that the Sky Ranch Board of Directors had asked me to resign for no stated reason. In two of these opportunities the men would be making a large personal investment – and I would be working with them, not under a board of directors.
Beginning another ministry in the Dallas area, with an excellent facility, could only create competition for several existing quality camp/conference ministries in the area – including Sky Ranch. I was determined not to undermine Sky Ranch in any way, and besides, with what we were living through, we knew we had to leave the Dallas area.
Sally Jo and I met with Dr. Robertson McQuilkin who asked me to consider developing the Cove facility and ministry in North Carolina. As we talked about this, Sally Jo and I realized we really did not want to be involved with the development of another facility. As Billy Graham said, “Every invitation is not a calling.”
We came to realize that what we really wanted to do, what we believed God would have us do was:
- To work directly with the people to whom we would minister
- To encourage the development of capable, godly young people.
- To provide the opportunity to learn basic life and recreational skills young people could use throughout their lives
- To not be overly involved with fundraising – as Sally Jo put it: “more the L’Abri model” (God will provide) .
We actually wrote this out as our “professional objective”. Because we had defined what we wanted to do, what we believed God would have us to do, it became much easier to decline other ministry opportunities.
As to what God would specifically have us do, we had no clue! For me it was back to Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In the King James Version the last phrase is “he will direct our path.” Today I would add to this verse Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
When unemployed, it is difficult to trust the Lord to direct us to the work (not just vocational work) He has already planned for us to do. Waiting patiently for the Lord to direct, to go before, can be frustrating, frightening, painful.
When living In Partnership With God, we have no choice but to trust and be open to whatever He would have us do. God has demonstrated He has many ways to communicate with His people.