Black Rock Retreat occupies nearly 130 acres near Lancaster, PA. The grounds include two dining halls, a chapel, several meeting rooms, outdoor pavilions, numerous fire pits, overnight cabins, a nature center, high and low ropes courses, a prayer labyrinth, a lake, and many trails. Although surrounded by Amish farms and a vibrantly flowing creek, the camp remains hidden beneath leaf covered trees.
During my time at BRR I provided soul care, daily group devotional space with the Lord, and times for organic conversation and storytelling one on one and in groups. 64 young adults from all over the world convened for two weeks of preparation for a summer of service. It was such a privilege to be a part of the training and development of the Black Rock summer staff as they anticipate impacting hundreds of kids.
For a small portion of each day while the staff tended to camp details, I explored the shaded trails throughout the property. The smell of crushed leaves, the local dairy farm, and native plants, bushes, and trees assaulted my senses as I wandered the paths. I noticed great delight within my soul as I walked with God. I did not have any agenda as I traversed the trails, except to be with God and enjoy His creation. I walked deep into the forest on the camp property.
During my first adventurous hike, I meandered so much that, even though I knew I was still on camp grounds, I became disorientated, eventually realizing I was lost. Nevertheless, the peace of God reigned in my soul. Although I was “lost” I didn’t feel lost. God was with me and I felt confident that He and I would find our way back. I continued to walk, enjoying the journey and trying to look for any sort of trail. Eventually I stumbled upon a lightly worn and overgrown impression of leaves. I found a pathway camouflaged by leaves and sticks which eventually led to more familiar terrain and the way back to the main camp.
Lost – unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts. Denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered. To not use advantageously; wasted.
When have you experienced being lost? How was God present with you? Whether you noticed it or not, God was with you. Thank Him.
I discovered that in the area where I was lost there were a number of overnight camp sites that some of the campers use for one night during their week of camp. And, I found out that there was a crude map of these campsite locations. I took a photo of the map on my phone and began another adventure, determining to walk Black Rock and learn my way. I walked to the edge of the camp, attentive to the small trails and discovered my adventure the day before had actually brought me close to the overnight camp sites called “Horizon,” “Pinnacle,” “Utopia,” and “Lost.” I blazed paths that will become well worn throughout the summer. I found “Lost” nestled through a grove of tall leafy trees and surrounded by overgrown ground cover.
Each day, usually after breakfast, I developed a hiking habit which took me from one edge of BRR along the perimeter, through the center, to the lake, and back to camp upon dirt, rock and foliage covered trails. I always ventured through “Lost” on my daily journey. This became a sweet spiritual practice with Jesus during my stay at BRR.
Might God be inviting you into a new or unfamiliar spiritual practice this summer? In what ways is God drawing you to take an adventure with Him?
I find great safety and security knowing that in the Lord I am found (Luke 15). So are you! With Him our identity is created and affirmed. With Him, our soul find its home. With Him, we live intentionally and passionately. With Him, we know extravagant love, peace, and companionship.
Take a moment to thank God that in Him, you are found. In Him, you are secure. In Him, you have purpose. In Him, you are loved. In Him, you can know the peace that passes understanding. In Him, you live with a faithful companion (Luke 19:10).
It appears God wanted to reinforce the reality of lost and found to me. My passport which I need to travel to Ukraine on June 23 seems lost in the mail and distribution system. Although I do not know it’s location, God does. After several hours of being on hold with the passport agency and UPS, as well as extensive conversations with multiple individuals, I have not yet found my passport. I hope that God leads me to the right people soon to find it’s location. Pray with me please. Again, I rest in the reality that my passport is not lost to God.
Have you lost something recently? Recall the truth that in the Lord, it is not lost. Take a moment to release any worry, anxiety, confusion, and discouragement to God. Rest in Him, while doing what you can to locate its whereabouts.
It seems that an aspect of living life to the full (John 10:10) involves the adventure of finding that which has been lost, but is lost no more. Just as the staff at Black Rock Retreat pour into campers all summer long pointing them to the One who loves them and in whom they are ultimately found, we too can direct others to Jesus who satisfies and secures our soul for all of life. I look forward to pointing those I meet in Ukraine and eastern Europe to the presence and power of God in the midst of pain, loss, and uncertainty. Of the 8 million Ukrainian refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced Ukrainians, I bet many of them feel lost. Let’s make the most of the time God gives us – let’s not waste it. Live intentionally and passionately for Him (Colossians 3:17).
Consider areas in your life where you experience being lost. Physically – maybe you live in a place you feel unwelcome or would not choose, or you experience physical illness or need? Emotionally – possibly you experience depression, isolation, fear, or confusion? Relationally – perhaps tensions exist within relationship with a family member, friend, co-worker, or ministry partner? Or, spiritually – maybe you wonder about God’s presence, the vitality of the Bible, or feel disorientated by unanswered prayer? In all of these areas and more God remains steadfast. Your life situations and concerns are not lost to God. He cares and lives attentive to the cries of your soul (Psalm 40:1).
Allow yourself to live, found in God. Invite others to be found in God as well. Rest in the safety and security of the steady presence and generous love of God through the adventure of life.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
Matthew 7:7-8 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Psalm 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Sean Gladding. The Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost and Found in the Bible. Downers Grove, IL. 2010.
Collin Hansen, Joni Eareckson Tada, Sam Allberry. Lost and Found: How Jesus Helped Us Discover Our True Selves. Minneapolis, MN. 2019.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Natalie Grant. You Will Be Found. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNTVrdkqpWo
Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.
June 23 – July 7 – Lviv, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, Ukraine and Chișinău, Moldova
Speaking, offering soul care, and supporting God’s servants with GTP and their partner, Mission Eurasia. If you would like to give towards the financial needs of this trip, I’d be grateful. Click here to watch a 10 minute story of the work in Ukraine. We will be serving with Andrey. Give at: www.gtp.org