Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding "The Shack" in West Texas

Ask anyone from Texas and they'll tell you that it has a beauty all its own. It's true. Open skies for days, beautiful sunsets, and a charm that is uniquely found in the people and culture.

Over there in my links I have a link to a "book i want you to read" called The Shack. It's a powerful representation of the unfailing love of God. Last weekend I travelled to lead worship for a retreat on a ranch in West Texas. I found God in a "Shack-like" experience I'll never forget. Dear friends, sweet times of searching, worship, exploring the vastness of this beautiful ranch, and seeing lives changed before my very eyes. Incredible.

There are several spots of oasis on the ranch were water trickles to make springs. Beautiful and peaceful.

This ranch has 40+ energy windmills on it providing enough energy for all of the city of Abilene and Sweetwater. The blades on those things are about 120 FEET long. crazy! Look at that sky!

Josh Hale--a great brother.

Channing and I were both on the leadership team for the retreat. Love this guy. God gifted me with his friendship.
Part of the fun of last weekend was connecting with old friends. Stephen Jacobs and David Gililland and I were Gamma Sigs together years ago. Great to be with them again! This picture was taken inside the mechanism of one of those windmills that had broken.

Sara Strader, Channing and me

David, Stephen and me...I'm thinking in this picture... "please hurry. There are snakes here."

Andrea, Sara and me. Sara led worship with me. She is so gifted!

As God takes the wind and makes energy through those windmills, He blew a breath of fresh air through me last weekend and created a new energy that I haven't felt in several years. I had a pretty amazing experience on the plane ride home. I was in the very back of the plane by myself and God brought Isaiah 35 alive to me in its entirety. There's no real way to describe what I experienced in that moment...a deep feeding at the core of my being, an overwhelming sense of His presence, an uncontrollable and swift current sweeping my sins and mistakes as far as the east is from the west. It was nothing short of life-changing. I'm grateful. Grateful for friends, grateful for mercy, grateful that God met me on a ranch in West Texas and built for me an encounter that I will never forget.

One day, years ago, Sandra Collins told me, "Build an alter here in your heart so that when you look back you'll remember the work of the Lord." Great words of advice that came back to me in a brand new way.

I love this verse from the old hymn "Come Thou Fount" by Robert Robinson written in the 18th Century. To raise an "Ebenezer" means exactly what Sandra Collins said to me that day. Build an alter here to honor this moment as a holy moment in time for the Lord.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

Praise God for His unfailing love. I'm living proof that He loves us in spite of ourselves!


Arlene said...

I know God knew what he was doing but just knowing that I was meant to be there and couldn't go keeps breaking my heart!

annie said...

BST, Thank you so much for sharing your "Ebenezer" with us. Really moving to read. God moves in wonderfully mysterious ways, & getting FILLED like that from Him is such an amazing thing!

Sarah said...

I have LOTS of thoughts about this, including how thankful I am for your time of refreshment, but I am always blown away by strange concentric CofC circles:

Sara Strader's father was my 8th grade and 12th grade (and maybe 10th grade) Bible teacher at my little Christian school in Louisiana. He LOVED our class (few other teachers did) and I have been to his home when Sara was LITTLE (usually barefoot and having been out playing in the dirt with her older brother) and on mission trips with him. He performed my best friend's wedding -- that Troy sang in. A few years ago I ran into him at the Mall of Abilene shortly after Sara got married.

I do remember that Sara's mom had a gorgeous voice, also -- very cool that you have been able to lead worship together, but I still feel about 112 that she is an actual adult.