When Strangers Became Family - Emily Lemke
Well, I am officially three months into my freshman year of “adult life” and boy it has been everything but boring! I have worked for Sky Ranch for 3 summers, so the Ranch has become a place that is easy for me to call home. But I couldn’t help but be a little nervous as I made the drive from the beautiful mountains of Westcliffe, CO as I ended my summer as a family camp counselor (shout out to my Horn Creek fam!!) and headed back to East Texas to start the Fellowship. While I knew I was headed toward a safe place that I love and trust so much, I knew I was headed into the unknown. I truly didn’t know much about what the Fellowship would actually hold for me. I only knew a handful of the people I would be working with and honestly had no clue what fellows did everyday— but I knew that this was something the Lord wanted me to say YES to. Fast forward 3 months later and I’m real glad I did because those strangers are like family to me and I can confidently say everyday that I LOVE MY JOB!
While the job itself is awesome (I mean who doesn’t want to work zip lines, teach 5th graders limnology, recruit awesome college staff for summer, and scrap lake brain off of the bottom of the blob?! not being sarcastic— it’s actually the best!!!!!), it really is the people that have been the best part. I am daily surrounded by a group of people who love Jesus so much and daily push me to look more like Him. Not only do they like dance parties, watching movies, and bring me lots of Dr. Pepper because that is my love language, but they have shown me what it looks like to reenact the Gospel daily. These people have seen me at my worst and still decide to choose me. They come alongside me in my nasty sinful nature and love me while fighting for my righteousness. They push me to be my best and see myself the way the Lord sees me and they are willing to call me out and keep me accountable. This is the type of community we have committed to living in this year and the Lord has taught me so much through them.
While I am truly blown away by these people and do not feel worthy to be surrounded by this community, the way they love me has taught me that this is just a small Earthly example of how my Heavenly Father loves and relentlessly pursues me. The Lord does not see me as a long to-do list of things to fix, but He sees me as His daughter that He loves and cares for so deeply that He would leave the 99 to come pull me back in. Even though I constantly want to do things my way and sometimes doubt His faithfulness, He remains steadfast and unchanging. He loves me SO much that He sent His Son to die on a cross and take my sin upon Him so that I could be brought back to a relationship with Him and THAT is something I REALLY don’t deserve.
Psalm 86:15 - But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
We joke around that this is the “year of refinement”, but that really is exactly what it is. The Lord chooses to use these people and this place to chip away at my sin and make me look more like Jesus. For that, I will always be thankful. 3 months down and 9 more to go, but I am sure that the lessons learned this year will last a lifetime.