God provides the opportunity for His people to prepare “to do the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Paul grew up in Greece as a Roman citizen and as a son of a Jewish Pharisee. At 13 he was sent to Jerusalem to study Orthodox Judaism under Gamaliel. We can be sure he had no clue God was providing the opportunity for him to become prepared to be a missionary to the Gentiles. He could not have known he would be visiting synagogues to tell about Jesus, or that he would be writing letters to believers in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, or to men like Timothy, Titus and Philemon. When Paul was learning to make tents, he did not know tent making would enable him to support himself while on three missionary journeys. Yes, some of what Paul learned, he did learn directly from God….but there was much he had to work to learn. God chose a man prepared for the task God had prepared for him to do.
By 1981 Deerfoot’s camper attendance had declined 26%. With the decline in attendance came a decline in contributions and the ability to replace worn out program equipment which meant a decline in the program, and with the decline in contributions there was a decline in even essential maintenance. Deerfoot had to change directions quickly.
Deerfoot’s Selection Committee knew Deerfoot needed a Director prepared for the task. These men did not just pray to God for guidance – they did their homework. They knew that if they chose the wrong man, Deerfoot Lodge would probably have to close. After two extensive interviews, checking my references, and considerable discussion, the selection committee chose me from 11 candidates to become the new Director of Deerfoot Lodge. I was hired because of my training, experience, proven track record – and the firm belief I was God’s choice. I accepted the responsibility because Sally Jo and I believed I was God’s choice. As I write this next paragraph, I feel a lot like the Apostle Paul must have felt when he stated his qualifications (Philippians 3:3-6), but I think it is important because I had more than the desire to obey God. I had the training and experience necessary to do the job well. As a boy, young man, pastor, and camp director in Texas, I had no clue God was preparing me to do His good work at Deerfoot Lodge. None! Please look to see how each of the following prepared me for something I was responsible for at DL.
Before graduating from high school I had been a camper for 19 weeks in excellent camps in Canada, Wisconsin, and Colorado, worked on a farm for 2 summers, washed pots and pans for Young Life’s Silver Cliff Ranch, spent a summer touring Europe as a choir member, a summer building a house in Costa Rica for Latin American Mission,, and a summer doing maintenance at Capernwray Hall in England. In college I took the 4 week staff training course at Wheaton College’s Honey Rock Camp, earned certification from the American Red Cross in First Aid, as a Life Guard and as an instructor in Water Safety, Canoeing, and Sailing, and worked as a counselor, waterfront director, unit leader, and as the assistant director. I took extensive voice lessons, sang in the Men’s Glee Club. I was the head cook for 2 years at Wheaton’s soccer, football, and cross country camp. I earned a Master’s in Divinity, a Master’s in Religious Education, and served as a pastor for 11 years, including 2 years as the Presbyterian Minister to Students at Middle Tennessee State University. I had taken a time management course from World Vision, a management course at Service Master Corporation and the American Management Association’s Management Course for Presidents. As the Executive Director of Sky Ranch in Texas, I had worked on the design and development of their new facility, from layout to sewer to camper cabins to maintenance building, hired a permanent of staff of 9, including an MBA in Business, and an MBA in Marketing, taken attendance from 1000 to 8,700 per year, and served as the President of the Texas section of the Christian Camping International, and as the program chairman CCI national Convention in Indiana, and then the chairman of their International Convention in Glorietta, New Mexico.
For forty years I was being prepared by God, by others, and my hard work to serve In Partnership With God as the Director of Deerfoot Lodge. I became Director being confident in God and my preparation, but still very uneasy about what was to come!
You may be very surprised at what God is preparing you to do – and He may be preparing you to carry out one responsibility when 19, another at 24, another at 30, another at 45…with each “good work” built upon what you had learned to that point.
God has given us our salvation and He has prepared work for us to do…Let’s be thankful and be well prepared.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10