The view is stunning. Jagged volcanic mountains tower above desert shrubs and open land. But it's not the view looking outward that catches my eye. It's what's going on inside the children visiting the property.
Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch is a special place that unites disadvantaged children and rescued horses. Together, they learn more about what it means to be loved and valued.
Founder Kim Meeder has met a lot of hurt children and a lot of damaged horses. Yet her ranch succeeds in its healing purpose because the staff members see beyond the limited view of a broken life and instead acknowledge the complete, God-given identity of each child and each animal.
As Ms. Meeder says in her book, "Hope Rising," "God doesn't see a hungry precipice yawning open to swallow us whole. He sees the perfect opportunity for hope to unfurl its wings and soar free over logic that tells us what is and isn't possible."
With divine guidance in a non-denominational Christian setting, Crystal Peaks has grown from a simple idea to an active, working ranch. When I visit there, I'm reminded of how powerful prayer is and what God can do to rebuild and restore lives that seem lost.
Prayer is something instantly accessible to everyone, wherever he or she is. It opens our thought to the possibilities for progress. Prayer does more than help us bounce back from a rough period. It solidifies the very essence of what we are as God's children and provides a foundation of strength and security. When we feel our connection with God, we see the result in our daily lives.
The Bible says, "Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old" (Lam. 5:21). It's not human energy that successfully brings about healthy changes. It's God that motivates and empowers the turning, just as a leaf naturally leans toward a window because the light is shining outside.
As we pray, we lean toward divine Love, shifting our focus toward Spirit, away from loneliness and into inclusion. Our simple yearning to know something better is the first step – and an irreplaceable one – in discovering our individual worth. We look to God for answers, and find Him already in place to help.
In fact, as God's creation, we each come spiritually "hard-wired" to respond to His goodness. We are the complete expression of God, lacking nothing. Our Maker gives us the inherent ability to put His love into practice in our lives, both to feel it ourselves and to share it with others.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "If we regard good as more natural than evil, and spiritual understanding – the true knowledge of God – as imparting the only power to heal the sick and the sinner, we shall demonstrate in our lives the power of Truth and Love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 3).
It's easy to feel beleaguered by the things that don't go right. But when we take time to pray for even a moment, we're taking that first step out of despair and into the spiritual understanding that goodness is normal and that we can expect it in our lives. We are responding to the touch of God's angel messages as they beckon us to follow close behind.
I believe that the rescued horses at Crystal Peaks feel those angels, or spiritual comfort, as they journey from fear and abuse to confidence and trust. The children feel them too, as they learn to bond with an animal and as they acquire the skill of horsemanship. This kind of healing regeneration is going on in many ways all over the world, wherever people are committed to helping people break free of abuse, poverty, sickness. It's God at work, answering prayer and rebuilding lives.
We can't all be on a horse ranch this summer. However, we can play a significant role in the natural healing process that leads to safer and healthier lives as we pray to see each of God's ideas as whole and joyful, not broken or hurt.