I've always heard sheep are dumb, but I disagree. I think they're really quite smart and have something to teach us all!One of my favorite moments of the day is to drive past my furry friends. They're captivating and wonder-full in my eyes. It's a good thing they're found off a barren road because I usually don't stay in my lane when I'm passing their field. Recently, I've noticed they tend to stay close to each other. The land is broad and full of grass to graze upon, yet for some reason they like to be in close proximity of each other.
Maybe they feel safer with their fellow friends. Maybe they simply enjoy their neighbor’s presence. Every once in awhile I’ll see one outside of the fence, savoring a fresh patch to feed on. However, it doesn’t take much to get that sheep to cross back over and join his four-legged companions. These sheep have learned a valuable lesson. They’ve found companionship to be a good thing and never stray far from their herd.
Do I value community like these sheep do? Am I walking slow enough in this place God has planted me to even notice my neighbor?
A couple of years ago, God led my husband and I to reconnect with YWAM (Youth With a Mission). We had done our DTS (Discipleship Training School) in Thailand in 2006 and volunteered with YWAM ministries in years past, but we never intended to join this mission organization full-time. So when the God-stirrings started happening, we were surprised. "You want us to do what, Lord?" As we pressed into God's heart to better understand, the call became more and more clear. He was asking us to go. He didn't give us the five-year plan; He simply said, "Follow Me."
So with a surprising peace (and yes, some fear and trepidation mixed in too), we sold a whole lot of stuff, stored a little bit of stuff, and followed Jesus to Texas. As we drove onto Twin Oaks Ranch, our daughters thought we had entered some strange western movie set; we knew we had arrived at the doorstep of God’s next great adventure for our family. Yet at that point, I really only believed YWAM Tyler would be a pit stop. I had no desire to stay here.
Over the next few months during SOE (School of Evangelism), we dug our heels in deep and got to know God in new ways. It was refreshing, convicting at times, and enlightening all in one. God never ceased to amaze me during the lecture phase. Then, we went on outreach, and I was blown away at all God was doing. I’d never been so intentional in all my life to tell people about Jesus. My favorite memory happened on an Alaskan road where I met one young man who won my heart and became the focus of many of my prayers throughout the trip. Every time I saw him, which was surprisingly a lot, I made it a point to encourage him with the love and grace Jesus gives. No doubt God was orchestrating those encounters, and on one Sunday morning, this young man responded to a prompting of love God was working into his heart. It was a moment, I'd never forget.
That school focused on Jesus and community in a way that was so refreshing. I wasn’t the only one seeking after God; I was surrounded by a lot of people wanting to know God more. As they discovered truths about their Father, I did too. As they cried, I cried too. As they laughed, yep…. you guessed it, I laughed too. It was life-giving, really. Uncomfortable sometimes because I had to be vulnerable before a lot of people, but this is the best part ~ they all loved and valued me no matter what! It was a safe place to get real!
Living in community had its challenges but overall the blessings outweighed them. One thing led to another, and God made it clear our next step as a family was to join YWAM Tyler for good. The pit stop turned into home. At first, I was excited, but I had my own thoughts and plans regarding this next season we were entering. Yet, next as I saw it never came, so I began to question God's intent in leading us to stay here. I lived for a season looking for a way out. Then God did something in my heart. He challenged me to love this place where He had brought me, but it didn't stop there. He also challenged me to love these people around me because He did! If I really loved Him then I would love them! That was the "next" he had for me.
So as I’ve passed the sheep and watched how these furry creatures value community, I’m learning to do the same here amongst my new YWAM family. I’m learning people’s names and discovering things about them that I didn’t know. I’m laughing a lot at what I see, and I’m crying sometimes too. God is present in my brothers and sisters, and they’re sharpening me in ways I needed to be sharpened.
I’m thankful the Lord led my family to YWAM Tyler. He really does know what He's doing. This place abounds with spiritual treasures ~ amazing people to connect with, unending beauty in His creation to discover, seasoned paths to traverse, warm meals to share, and God truths to learn.
Come join me here. I want to learn your name too. I want to know what makes you laugh, and if you need a friend to cry with, I’ll cry with you too. Ya know, those sheep aren't so dumb after-all! We really do need each other.
"Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom." (Luke 12:32 NLT)
Begin the journey today. Do a Discipleship Training School and see how God changes your life in this community.