At the entrance of Crossroads Farm’s national campus, there sits an impressive beam and stone archway. The wrought iron words suspended from a 20 foot timber say, "Crossroads Farm, est. 1999, Loving The Rural Teen." It is a symbol of the work CRF intends to complete over the next several decades. It is not what I want for you to see today, however.
The bases of this marque are lain over by rocks from different states, farms and families. Many of them came from the fields which belonged to Harold and Ruth Ashton before CRF existed. God had placed these stones in the ground several centuries before. Each rock tells a story. I wonder where the granite came from? This piece of basalt? Washed here by Noah’s flood? Moved here by an indigenous tribe? One pair of rocks made it from Wisconsin. Others from the shores of Lake Superior, others from a cottage on Lake Michigan. A few were stored in memory of a dear friends farm and anticipation of their part in these posts.
Somewhere near the four foot square by five foot stone base rests an out of place object. It is a reddish orange brick. It should be cause to wonder, Did they somehow run out of rocks?
The brick has a personal story.
It came from a fireplace in a dining area of a place called the Miracle Building. The building served as the ministry hub for a camp called Hiawatha on Piatt Lake in Eckerman, Michigan. The edifice, built in 1972 was an answer to prayer and a demonstration of vision translated to action. The building came to its end under a crushing amount of Upper Peninsula snow in 2019.
That brick signifies the place where Dawn and I met, sat and talked about ministry and life. It was a place where national speakers would start early morning fires and weekly campers would confess and proclaim decisions made during their week at camp. My daughters, along with other people’s daughters and sons, sat on the hearth and warmed themselves during those chilly northern Michigan mornings. It is a symbol of a story of God’s provision and grace. It is a place where God moved.
The fireplace went down with the building, but the story did not.
The Camp no longer resides in the building or in the building built to replace it. It doesn’t matter. The brick is foundational to the story of Crossroads Farm. Over the past 23 years, hundreds of the students from CRF attended camp, heard about Jesus and had a miraculous God change their lives. The fact that the fireplace no longer resides there, that the camp has a new home, or that CRF students will never again be able to sit on this hearth, does not change the truth, that for a time, God used a brick to build generations. It was always God’s fireplace. It was always God’s place. It was always His brick.
In this day of cancel culture, I see much of the movement to eliminate the messier parts of history and life. Our nation quakes under the removal of statues, explanations and historical narratives. It has never been God’s way. It has never been grace’s way. Grace tells the whole story, ugly blemishes, failed relationships, imperfect attempts at loving and serving and redeems the whole story.
Part of the story of CRF comes from this brick, those stones from Wisconsin, the rocks from the back forty of Harold and Ruth’s farm, or the shores of great lakes. Grace rests in in the imperfect stories, transitions and collapses. It does much more though. It demonstrates the nature of our God. It represents the cross, the grave and death. You should see the tapestry of stone in the works.
David’s affair and assassination of his friend, Job’s scars from the boils which symbolized his total loss, Jacob’s cane which reminded him each step of his battle with God, each a reminder of God’s motive operandi; beauty from ashes, life from death, foundations from rubble.
My prayer today is for our part of the story. God can redeem bricks. Always tell the whole story.
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12