Heading west on I-70, I turn left onto Highway 103 toward Mount Evans, a Colorado 14er so massive and so high that it creates its own weather system! For 9.5 miles I climb into the grandeur of God’s creation. The air becomes drier; the vegetation lush yet weathered by the perennial struggle against wind, snow, thin air, summer drought and general scarcity. Breathing becomes more of a chore. I turn right onto narrow Peaceful Valley Lane, where the trees clutch arms across the road, seemingly blocking out the sun and the everything I left behind in “The World.” I enter a hidden parking area (remind me, Lord, to put up a sign here next time I come: “Welcome Home”). A short hike takes me into a secluded meadow, the base camp for two contiguous properties owned by a member of our tribe, Peaceful Valley Ranch and Squaw Valley Ranch, which have been graciously made available to Caleb’s Heart Ministries for adventure, most notably our Weekend Almost Alone With God – WAAWG. If God were to meet me here this weekend in the thin silence, in the natural place as opposed to the built-up place, what would he want to talk to me about?
Caleb’s Heart Ministries is a licensed 501(C)3 non-profit ministry registered and resident in Colorado. Caleb’s Heart operates alongside the organized church to provide a service to men which the church is for whatever reason less able to provide on its own. However, the routine work of CHM targets the needs of a specific group of men: the broken, Christian or unsaved, who have been dissatisfied, disenchanted, hurt, or otherwise ill-served by the organized church. At our core, we’re wild men, dangerous, tribal. When the defenses of life are breached, we stand shoulder to shoulder, back to back. Through our Weekend Almost Alone With God (WAAWG), Fight Club, Band of Brothers (BOB) ministries and more, CHM provides acceptance, truth, a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit, and equipping for biblical manhood.
In the summer of 2017, we claimed Peaceful Valley Ranch as our new permanent WAAWG site. We cleared downfall, cut a series of walking/ATV trails, poured truckloads of roadbed, established a base camp and 8-10 secluded primitive camping spots. The result: in 2017 we experienced our largest summer ministry to date! This year our plans are to build out Peaceful Valley Ranch with several hard structures- a kitchen, some storage, eventually even an all-weather cabin for nearly year-round use. We’ll purchase an ATV to shuttle supplies and equipment around. We’ll construct an ATV bridge across Chicago Creek to open access to the high end of the valley – Squaw Valley Ranch. As a minimum, these projects will more than double the summer ministry capacity of the Ministry! We’re conducting an extraordinary fundraising campaign – “Taking The Valley” Wild-eyed Warrior Challenge – in late April and May to resource these initiatives. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, let’s just “Prime the pump.” You know the illustration—old-fashioned pumps first needed some water poured in to prime them before they could reach down deep and pull up water. I want to suggest four things for us all to consider before we start Taking The Valley.
First, recognize that we all want more. We have all kinds of people in this tribe, but one thing we have in common, no matter what our present level of thirst, is that we all really want more. We cry out to God, “More, please!” There’s something inside of each of us that wonders if there’s more to life than we have; if it’s possible to be happier, more fulfilled, more content, more satisfied. Value is what’s important. What is true? What is lasting? That’s what we want in our relationships with our spouses, our children, our life’s work. It’s okay to want more and to not settle for less than you were created for. God created us with a thirst to want more and to be more. What is that “more” for you?
Second, God offers us true riches—and among them is the gift of his love. God really loves and cares for us. It has been aptly noted that today “we know the price of everything, but the value of very little.” In Acts 20:24 in The Message translation we’re told, “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” We can’t out-love, out-give God.
Third, we each need to discover our niche, where we fit, where we serve. There’s a place where you fit perfectly as God has created you, and where everything you have or do works together to accomplish his desires. You may be called on to use your time, money, talent, knowledge, or even relationships. This can’t happen if we have divided loyalties; we must have a central focus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” When we choose God first, other choices will begin to take their rightful place.
Fourth, it’s all about relationship. When you love someone, you become like them. You want to do the things you see them do. Jesus said he only did what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19). Putting the kingdom of God first doesn’t have to be hard. I’m constantly amazed that the creator of the universe wants to be my friend. He wants to spend time with me. He wants to talk with me; he listens to what I have to say. That’s mind-blowing, isn’t it? But it’s true.
But like all intense, satisfying relationships, this requires commitment. Before we run off halfcocked into “Taking The Valley,” we need to commit to see it through. Commitment primes the pump, bringing the water of life. Once primed, the pump will flow endlessly as long as it keeps moving. Commitment is when our colors are true, knowing whose team we’re on, what brand we ride for. To keep us moving in the right direction for the next few weeks, I’ll be talking to you about our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service. My prayer is that each of us will commit to the journey into Taking The Valley and receive all that God has already committed to for us.