I am starting a new series called “Confessions of a Co-founder”. Here I hope to provide some insights, struggles, and joys when starting up a Christian Non Profit and working at GOYR. As many of you know, my wife Chalae grew up with horses and God put this ranch and its mission strongly in her heart. But it wasn’t the same for me. While I love our Lord, and certainly love to support mission work, the entire ranch, its operations, and support were well beyond my comfort zone! But through a lot of prayer, hard work, and fun, God has been revealing Himself and my small role in His kingdom. In these short “confessions” you will gain a small glimpse into some of the lessons I have been learning personally. Perhaps you all can relate.
As I write this, Christmas will be here in just a few weeks. While my day job is still going strong (I still work for a living as an IT manager) and the demands my employer continue to pile up, the work at GOYR still needs daily attention. Strategically there are still bills & budgets to address, marketing plans and actions, and relationships that need to be developed. On a more practical matter: horses need to be fed, watered, and exercised. The chicken coop must be cleaned out weekly, and there is an ever growing list of building projects, activities, and plans that demand attention…. That is something that I have really begun to appreciate: the work on a ranch, even a small ranch like GOYR never really is done. Things just move from our ever expanding list of actions to our short list of what we can do feasibly today. There is never quite enough time or resources to do everything that we have on our lists.
Then God started to share something with me during our quiet times. Read Mathew 14:13-21. Here the bible tells of event where Jesus fed 5000. I have read this story countless times before but this time…. something about it was different and fascinating. Have you ever put yourself into the shoes of the disciples during this event? Remember, they have been with Jesus for quite some time, they have seen Him perform amazing miracles already. They should know how Jesus can operate but look at their response when Jesus looks at the crowds with pity and concern: in verse 15 the disciples respond,
“This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
These disciples know their limitations and so they respond with the only logical outcome: To ask Jesus to send them away to fend for themselves. But then Jesus proposes the impossible, v16: “They don’t need to go away; YOU give them something to eat.” (Emphasis mine).
Right Jesus…. I’ll just give these thousands of people the pocket change I have on me. How the heck am I supposed to serve all of them? How can I possibly make any difference in their lives? I have nothing that comes close to being able to actually make a dent in their hunger! Jesus, what you ask for is impossible.
…..But God…., who knows our limitations, who knows how weak we are, who loves us and invites us into fellowship with Himself knows this and LOVES to do the impossible with us. Jesus had a plan even then, He used a small boy’s lunch and magnified it across everyone in the crowd. The Disciples must have spent hours upon hours handing out food that came from the smallest gifts and in the end EACH amazed disciple carried back a full basket of leftover food! What a message and reminder for each of them. With God all things are possible. Even with our smallest heartfelt acts, God will use them for His purpose. This is our Lord who delights in sharing Himself with us. This is a God who gently asks for smallest amounts of faith so that He can do mighty works of good through us.
During my prayers I often go to God with so much fret and worry. My wife says I stress out too much (she is correct) but I simply cannot keep up with everything that needs to get done. I look across this small youth ranch and humbly remember the 7 kids this year who decided to give their hearts to Christ and be baptized. I recall the small groups and community groups who met out here to encourage each other in their walks with the Lord. I think of all the amazing families who give up their time and resources to joyfully help build out GOYR services and events. And I consider the kids who come out here for 1 on 1 sessions, sometimes their stories are filled with hurts that are overwhelming and so unfair. It is all too much, it literally is impossible for me to serve them all.
But then again, maybe my focus is wrong. Maybe I can’t change hearts. Maybe the weight of supporting GOYR isn’t for me to do. Maybe… just maybe I am just a guy who is supposed to carry a basket around and hand out God’s blessing one at a time. Perhaps God looks at me just as Jesus looked at his disciples and laughs as He shares His life through all ….and each of us.
Well Merry Christmas you beautiful people, thank you for your support, for your prayers, for your passion. May God continue to do the impossible through you! And most of all: thank you Lord for letting me carry a basket today. May my small help be magnified by You and for You.
Sincerely, Ben Cartledge