Life, for the Christian, can be Hard! #110

It is hard to lose my job because someone lied about me.
It is hard for God’s people, in any situation, to lose their job because someone lied about them.
It must have been hard on Joseph when he lost his job because someone lied about him.

It is hard to wait for a job.
It is hard for God’s people if they are out of work for months, unable to make house payments.
It must have been hard for Moses to leave a palace to live in the wilderness 40 years – no job.

It is hard to be away from family for three week stretches – work requires it!
It is hard for God’s person to spend weeks away on job assignment, or a year away – in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It must have been hard for the apostle Paul to continually live on mission trips – with no family to return to.

It is hard to sit at a desk in an empty office and call every boy (180) who attended DL the year before – please return!
It is hard for the Christian sales person to call prospect after prospect seeking a sale – knowing their income is at stake.
It must have been hard for Jeremiah to plead with God’s people to repent, to turn for their sinful ways. No sale!

It is hard to eat another meal in a restaurant or at McDonalds – alone.
It is hard to be God’s person, who, in the line of their work, eats another meal in a restaurant, or at McDonalds – alone.
It must have been hard for Caleb to be stuck in the wilderness eating manna – even when he had trusted God for victory

It is hard to hire 50 employees on the basis of one or two recommendations and one personal interview.
It is hard to open a new franchise, and, even after considerable prayer, to hire people – knowing they could do poorly.
It must have been hard for Jesus to have Peter deny him three times – even though Jesus knew Peter would do it.

It is hard to be the director of a camp, when you are unsure of how the camp should function.
It is hard for a believer to begin a new job when they have not observed the person who previously had the position.
It must have been hard for Timothy when Paul asked him to remain in Ephesus to teach the truth to a developing church.

Life, for the believer, will have periods of time when it is hard to know what is God’s best for the situation.
It does not matter if the believer is in full time Christian vocation or working for a “secular company”.
It does not matter if the believer lives today, or 2000 years ago.

When we live In Partnership With God, we may have situations that stretch our bodies, minds and faith.
Through history, God has let this happen to His people.

Perhaps God has chosen challenges for His people – that we may grow in our confidence of God’s faithfulness.

Self Doubt! #109

Sally Jo and I had waited somewhat patiently for God’s next assignment. We were both excited about the opportunity to work with Deerfoot Lodge, and when we went to see Deerfoot for the first time, this excitement was further kindled as we drove up I-87 from New Jersey to Albany, NY. It was beautiful: the Hudson River, the Swangunk and Catskill Mountains, the fresh snow. We were back to the area of the country we had so enjoyed during our four years in Connecticut.

Later, as I met with the selection committee and learned more of the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge my heart was thankful to the place of bursting. But as I flew from Newark back to Dallas, self doubt began to push the excitement aside. Would I get the job – this job that seemed so right to us.

And then the call came: “Chuck, the committee believes that you are God’s choice for the new Director of Deerfoot Lodge”. Our first response: excitement. My second response: Can I really do this?” How would I do without a supporting staff?” Could I do a good job as a camp director without a staff member with an MBA of Business, and another with an MBA in marketing? How would I do without an excellent secretary, without an excellent program man, and without a year around maintenance man? How could I direct a camp that I had never seen in operation, never seen except under a foot of snow? And where would I find sixty staff? I only knew one potential staff member well.

My uneasiness increased as it began to sink in that I would spend most of the next five months alone. Sally Jo and our three children would be remaining in Dallas through the end of the school year while I traveled out from the Harro’s home to visit other DL Board members, potential staff, and to make DL presentations – presentations about a place I knew very little about. And what had I done to us financially? We had a daughter heading for college the next year and I was taking a cut of a third in my compensation package, and we were moving from Texas where there was no sales tax, no state income tax, and property taxes were three times what they were Texas.

“Lord, did I misunderstand your leading?” Yes, I had experienced God’s provisions for our family and for the ministries I had been a part of in the past, but I could not help but wonder if these provisions would continue. I knew I should be able to trust in the Lord, to have confidence in God’s dependable guidance and provision, but in this situation, it was a stretch. It did not help that I was still struggling with occasional visual distortion of the real world around me.

Through the Bible I knew my feelings of inadequacy, of doubting God’s sufficiency, had been experienced by others God had chosen for specific tasks. God said to Moses, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses responded: Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? If I go to the Israelites and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me, and they ask, what is his name?, what shall I tell them? What if they do not believe me? O Lord, I have never been eloquent, I am slow of speech and tongue?” –Exodus 3 and 4

At such times, if we want to live “In Partnership With God”, we must continue to go forward, doing what we believe God would have us do, regardless of how impossible the task truly is – apart from the Lord’s continual guidance and provision.

In this situation, I never did hear God’s voice, or have Him speak to me through a dream. But as I worked hard at seeking to do the job others, as well as Sally Jo and I, believed God desired for us to do, I did experience God’s guidance and provision. Yes, God was being God, and I only needed to be His faithful servant.

Being God’s Choice! #108

In the context of being interviewed for the position of Director of Deerfoot Lodge I learned all I could about the ministry. Sally Jo and I had visited the facility; I had reviewed a variety of reports and asked many questions. The situation was not good. Camper attendance over a 15 year period was down about 50%. The facilities were in need of considerable repair. Annual contributions were down to $13,000 annually. The camp was operating in the red, and there had been some discussion about closing Deerfoot Lodge.

But then again, I was not in a good situation either!!!!

Almost five months earlier I had been asked to resign – for reasons I did not know. I had a wife and three children, and our money was running out. Emotionally I was not doing real well either, though I was not in as bad a shape as Elijah when “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord’”. I Kings 19:24, and my wife was supportive, not like Job’s wife who said: “Curse God and die!” Job 2:9

During several hours of meeting with the selection committee there were many questions and considerable discussion. I remember being asked something like “Chuck, you have moved five times during your 17 years of ministry. At Sky Ranch you had a year around staff of at least 9. At Deerfoot Lodge you will have a year around staff of 1 – you. What reason do we have to expect that you can adjust to this change, and will stay for more than a few years?”

I had thought through my answer to this question. “I have told the Lord that I would like to spend my life building lives, not building another camp or helping to “fix” another ministry. I would like to remain the Director of Deerfoot Lodge for 25 years, until I retire.”

After being hired as the Director of Deerfoot Lodge, the head of the selection committee, Dale Harro, told me that the selection committee had interviewed eleven candidates, most of whom had Deerfoot experience as camper or staff member. At the end of all the interviews, each member of the selection committee was asked to write down the name of the person they believed should become the Director of Deerfoot Lodge. Every member of the committee wrote down my name. Then he said: “Chuck, always remember when things get tough, and they will, you are God’s choice for this position.”

  • Noah was God’s choice, and he built an ark for over 100 years.
  • Joseph was God’s choice, and he was sold as a slave and later thrown into prison unjustly.
  • Moses was God’s choice, and he was leader of the Israelites in the desert for 40 years.
  • Nehemiah was God’s choice, and he had to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
  • Daniel was God’s choice, and went to the lion’s den.
  • John the Baptist, Stephen, Peter, and Paul were God’s choices too.

During the 23 years I served as Director of Deerfoot Lodge, there were many difficult times. Often I would think back to what Dale Harro said: “Remember Chuck, you are God’s Choice”.

Living In Partnership With God is both a comfort…and a challenge!

Waiting… As Life Goes On! #107

Having received the information brochure telling that Deerfoot Lodge was seeking a new camp director…and seeing that the application deadline was past, I called the Chairman of the Selection Committee. Dr. Dale Harro and I talked briefly. He confirmed that the application deadline was past, and then encouraged me to complete and mail my application to him. I would be considered for the position. The application was in the mail the next day – November 2.

Receiving the Deerfoot Lodge application was an incredible experience. Though I had never seen Deerfoot Lodge, I had heard much about this wonderful place. My father had worked as a camp counselor the summers of 1931-2 while in medical school. These were special years as his father had died when he was a teenager and Dad Kunz had been like a father to him. My father told me about the kind of man Dad Kunz was, what the early years of the camp were like, and also…about very carefully sewing up a counselor who had accidentally sat down on a sharp double-bitted ax.

The stated purpose and philosophy of Deerfoot Lodge were essentially what Sally Jo and I had written down two months earlier: We wanted to help young people grow spiritually while providing for them the opportunity to learn skills that people had used through history – fire building, cooking out doors, hiking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, archery, riflery, survival, etc. Sally Jo and I had also written down that we did not want to have offices in two locations which required a weekly commute between the two. Sally Jo and I felt we were a good fit with Deerfoot Lodge.

Meanwhile, life had to go on. On November 6 we had a garage sale. On November 8, Sally Jo was exhausted so stayed home from church, was up only for meals. On the 15th and 16th my dad came for a visit, and, as you can imagine, serious conversation. On the 18th we went out to Sky Ranch to visit the cook and his wife, Dennis and Linda Rice – great people, great friends. Every visit flooded us with memories, both wonderful and tough. On November 19 Sally Jo wrote in her diary “so tired”. On November 25th we made another day trip to the Ranch, this time to help Dennis and Linda move into their new home on the ranch – a beautiful home nearing completion when I was asked to resign. On that trip we also spent time with Walter Hodges. Walter, a retired insurance man, lived just up the road and had worked side by side with Sally Jo as they developed the five acre garden. When his wife, Bonnie, had a stroke, our friendship deepened. We also spent time with Glad, the widow who had financially helped in the development of the new camp facility – another wonderful friend. We would be leaving these friends soon…for somewhere.

Life had to go on – music lessons, soccer practice, horses at the barn, church activities, an orchestra concert, Sally Jo’s weaving class, the teaching of my Sunday school class…and shopping, ironing, and phone calls that included a lengthy conversation with the Deerfoot Lodge selection committee. Through this telephone interview process I learned the committee was talking with many people. As I had no confidence that Deerfoot was the place God would have us – or to put it differently, that the committee would select me, I continued to meet with people whose organizations were interested in hiring me. Emotionally all of this was extremely difficult. It is wonderful to say, even to believe, that God is in control, but we must also acknowledge that human beings make mistakes. I am a human and the selection committee: humans also. Yes, we do live In Partnership With God, and yes, God does work together for good – but there are often huge bumps in the road!

Then came the telephone call we had hoped and prayed for! Would we both fly to NY on December 9 so we could see, for the first time, the Deerfoot Lodge facility, and for my first face to face meeting with the selection committee. So we flew from Texas to see Deerfoot Lodge which had at least a foot of snow. It was a bitter cold day when Dale, and his son, Clayton, took us on a tour of the facility – out to the Island and out to the Point and through innumerable empty cold buildings. Dale later said they were freezing, but thought we wanted to see more, and we were freezing and wondering why they thought we should see it all!

After returning to Dallas I was called: “You are in the final three. Would I please return on the 18th for a second meeting with the selection committee. After the meeting I flew home. Late that night we received a call from Dale Harro: “You will unanimously be recommended to the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors as the new Director of Deerfoot Lodge.”