When he finished his service with the fire department at 16, he felt lost. “I felt like I had no control over anything I wanted in life. I gave up hope in those things and that caused a lot of pain. My family wasn’t in the most stable condition, and it was hard to look around and see others who had more stable families.” Timmy closed himself off to those around him, and his mother felt like she had lost her son. When Timmy arrived at Christian Encounter, he kept to himself. One of the interns reminded him of one of his cousins, which helped Timmy want to stay. The next several months were tumultuous as he struggled internally. Timmy was at war with himself.
“I felt like I had no control over anything I wanted in life.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) The verses in Romans 7 encapsulated his thought processes perfectly. But he couldn’t see the way out. Seven months into his stay, he was faced with a decision. The previous night his thoughts came closing in on him again, and this time, he gave in to his natural instinct - he ran. Once he was located, he was brought back to the Ranch. The next day he was given a choice: to stay or to leave prematurely. He made his decision, and a one-way ticket was purchased. Even as seeds of hope and truth were bearing fruit over the past months, anger still lingered. “I blamed Him for a lot of stuff. I felt abandoned by everyone, including God.” But as these painful memories resurfaced this time, God spoke to his child: “I didn’t leave you. I was still there.”
As each painful memory came to mind, He spoke: “Even then, I was there.” Timmy heard the voice of His Father. And he wanted to respond. But the fear of failing Him, of disappointing Him, was too much. Plans were in motion for Timmy’s departure from the Ranch the next day. The day before, God spoke to him again. Timmy looked around at his Ranch family that evening. He saw a lot of love there. Timmy changed his decision, and the flight was canceled. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to stay, I need to grow. I knew that change was possible, but not by my own power. It all flipped when I allowed Him to work.’”
The change in Timmy’s demeanor was almost immediate. “Others noticed it a lot more than I did. It just felt like it happened naturally.” Timmy had chosen life. In the weeks to follow, Timmy sought counsel, asked questions, and looked towards his future. He built igloos, turned 18, and received his high school diploma all in the same week. It was a rich season. His family joined in on the celebration, of course. During his graduation reception he took advantage of the helium balloons and performed a rendition of his “Chicken Nuggies’’ song, a Ranch family favorite. “The Ranch has a really cool family aspect. People from broken homes who don’t have an older sibling or parental figure come here and they get that. I look at the interns as my cousins and older siblings; they also have a parental role. There is goofiness, and there is firm, yet gentle love. It’s full of love.”
"I knew that change was possible, but not by my own power.
Several weeks later, as Timmy finished out the program, he decided he was ready to make a public proclamation of faith through baptism. There was nothing holding him back. Timmy was free.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)