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August 27, 2007

Joy for Your Journey

They will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs. Isaiah 61:7

Can you imagine living in a tent in rural northeast Georgia and going to school? Even in the south, winters can be brutal and summers just as punishing. Most of us would not make it. Three straight days without the convenience of a Starbucks or a cell phone, and we would be lining up for drop/add. And more than likely, we would not be adding anything—at least not at this location.

When the focus of your heart is set on doing God’s will regardless of your circumstances, you hardly notice what is missing. Suddenly, a sheet iron stove or a kerosene heater warms you physically while conversation with friends warms your heart. There is something to be said about sleeping under a canopy of stars and knowing that the omnipotent love of an infinite God is watching over you.

“Lumber was cheap,” said Dr. Forrest “after all we had acres of it.” Therefore, a double floor was added to the tents, along with wainscoting about four feet high and screening over the front entrance. “When thinking back about those early days, I can only shake my head. It took more courage than anything to keep going, but students kept coming—why, I do not know. Why they stayed, I couldn’t tell you. But we had the sweetest kind of time; nobody complained; everybody was happy.”

The TFI boys named their row of tents Joy Avenue. From their perspective, that said it all—joy in times of difficulty, joy in times of goodness, and joy to the Lord, who provided all they needed.

Part of the Scripture that God gave Richard and Evelyn Forrest as His promise of faithful provision includes these words: “They will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs” (Isaiah 61:7). Most of us would have been tempted to think: Surely, someone will step forward to rebuild what had been lost. But no one did—at least not for a season. God was watching to see what His children would do. No doubt, He could have opened heaven’s windows and poured out enough money to build ten structures far bigger and greater than Haddock Inn, but He waited. Would they allow Him to give them something far greater than anything money could buy—joy, hope for the future, sincere love for one another, and most of all an undivided love for Him? And without a doubt, He received His answer.

Is there a Joy Avenue running deep within your heart? If there is, then you understand the unshakable bond these early students and faculty members had not only with one another but more importantly with the Lord.


(Taken from the online book Grace in The Wilderness © 2007