First Grace Lesson

I mentioned in the previous blog about meeting our spiritual mentor for the first time. We actually met her at my place of employment. We were houseparents for a boy’s ranch.

I was raised Catholic. In 1970, I had an experience or God encounter that resulted in me giving my life to Him as Lord. At the time, I was just out of the Air Force and in college but not really into college. After laying down my life and trusting Him as Lord, I asked, what now, God? What should I do? Should I stay in college? The following Wednesday, we went to our usual, not Catholic, church service. They had a guest speaker that night. He was the chaplain for the Houston Oilers.

I do not remember what he spoke about but the whole time he was speaking I saw the word, KIDS, behind him on the wall. I would not call it a vision but more from my mind. It was so strong that I went up after he finished and told him what I was seeing. I said I think God wants me to work with kids. Do you have any ideas? He recommended I go speak to a friend who ran a Christian adoption agency and other kid ministries. I called their office the next morning, using the chaplain’s name to get me an appointment to meet with the CEO of this nonprofit.

The CEO said he knew about a boys ranch that was ready to open for the first time, however, the houseparents they had hired just quit so they were in a bind to find someone soon. He gave me the name of the boy’s ranch administrator. I called him using the CEO’s name to get an interview. We met with him for lunch and I was hired. We were really both hired but my wife would continue her full time nursing job. Bye, bye college.

This was also my first experience (or awareness of) with God’s timing. It was/is perfect. These were delinquent boys that had been in jail or juvenile detainment many times. A judge sent them to this boy’s ranch as a last opportunity to stay out of Gatesville, Texas, a juvenile prison, similar to adult prisons. So here we were with no experience in working with troubled teens and no children of our own. There were many trials, tribulations, and joyful times, but I felt like He was laying a faith walk foundation in our hearts. We grew to love those boys which was our guiding light. Exactly one year after we were hired, we departed,

A few months after we left, the administrator called to see if we would come back for a weekend to give the new houseparents a break. I said yes. That weekend was horrible. The same boys we loved turned on us like we were their worst enemy. They acted out in so many ways, torturing our dogs, yelling and cursing at us, among many other things. It was a weekend in delinquent boy’s ranch hell.

We were both in tears as we drove away late Sunday evening. That week our spiritual mentor friend happened to be in town, God’s timing again. We saw her a few days later and tearfully shared this experience, not understanding what was happening spiritually. She was silent for a moment then said, “God was showing you it was His grace that enabled and empowered you to get through one year at this boy’s ranch”. We were comforted by those words and believed they were from Him.

This was my first grace lesson. It was a hard, everyday lesson but one I will never forget. He was teaching me to recognize the difference between my strength/weakness and His grace. I wish I could say this was the first and last grace lesson in my life but there were, still are and will be many to follow.

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