Now that summer 2017 is “in the books” I have had time to reflect on what ended up being a summer of stops and starts. As many of you already know, our Executive Director Bob, had an unexpected health problem 2 days before our summer kicked off. Running an operation as big as ours requires attention, hard work, and many volunteers. Bob had spent months planning, booking trips, working with volunteers and praying for a great summer. After much prayer and many conversations with everyone scheduled to come up this summer, the board decided to re-schedule or cancel as many trips as we could so that Bob could recover and regain his health back in Texas.
While we were disappointed that we had to change up our summer after months of planning, we were glad that Bob was doing well and that everyone who had a trip booked was understanding and supportive. During this time it seemed that everything was a setback. It was easy to see what the ministry was experiencing as a roadblock, a setback, or just a flat disappointment. The summer ended up being the opposite of that.
After visiting with all of the groups signed up to spend a week with us this summer, there was one group that had already bought over $20,000 of plane tickets, had two full trips planned and was still game to come, even if it meant adjusting the schedule, trip, location and overall planning. After making several calls and praying about it, several board members and former guides stepped in to make these two trips happen. What we thought would be a bit of a disappointment ended up being uplifting for everyone involved.
It reminded me of a trip I once had planned to ride the famous White Rim Trail in Moab, Utah. A few years back, I was in a funk. Working in full time ministry I was tired, needed a break and just wanted an adventure. After weeks and weeks of thinking and praying I decided to ride my mountain bike around the 110 mile White Rim Trail. I applied for a permit and waited. After weeks of waiting I discovered that I was granted the hard to get White Rim permit for later that spring. For months I planned, trained, tested out my gear set up and told anyone who would listen about my upcoming solo adventure. As the time got closer, I was excited, ready, and hanging all my hopes on that trip. I was sure it was an answer to my prayer of renewal. Life and ministry happened however, and some pressing needs in my ministry took over and I had to cancel the trip. I was sure that my one chance had passed me by. Dejected, I called the permit office to tell them I would be missing my trip. The young man on the other line unexpectedly asked if I wanted to re-schedule my trip for another day. Not expecting to ever use the permit, I threw a day out the next fall and he happy said, “sure that’s open.”
The next few months I forgot about my permit and settled back into my ministry. One evening while having dinner with friends I mentioned to them that I had a hard getting the White Rim permit. Jumping up from his seat my friend simple said, “we are using that permit!”. Before I knew it, my solo trip turned into a trip with 3 great friends. While I thought my perfect trip was over, God had different plans. The trip was a life changing time spent with close friends. What I initially thought was a disappointment, was actually an issue of God’s timing. While my “perfect” trip in the spring never happened, a better, more meaningful trip happened later that fall. One that helped me grow closer to others, refuel my spirit and get excited about a new future. God knew better than I what was needed. The same thing happened this summer.
The two trips we were able to keep this summer were a great success. Lives where changed, lifelong friends were made, and several people gave their lives to Christ. What we thought was going to be a summer of “disappointment”, ended up being a summer where seeds were planted, a future was dreamed up and we discovered God’s plan for our ministry moving forward.
God does not always do what I want. All of my prayers do not always get answered. Often disappointing things happen. If we stay diligent however, keep praying, keep an open heart and mind, and always ask God, “What would you like to do with this situation?” We just might discover that God has a bigger plan we may have missed had we simply given up.
We had the exact opposite summer of what we had planned…and it was a great summer. Which reminds me, be looking for some great new trips soon, big announcements, and exciting developments over the next few weeks. God is doing some great things and we cannot wait to share them with everyone.