This weekend I found myself at my first men’s weekend away at Pinkery outdoor centre deep into Exmoor. The allure of a few days completely off grid was soon tempered however by the reality of just how good midges are at doing their job.

Sitting quietly, I watched the comical antics of a ferret who kept sneaking into the kitchen to pinch food from the waste bins, speedily returning with its booty back to its lair behind the shed. I was reminded how the rugged scenery and majesty of God’s creation up close become thin places for many. Here God is close, unobstructed by the hustle and bustle of modern life, the heavens declaring the glory of God, the skies the work of His hands.

The next day we bravely headed off on a three-mile trek cross country to the nearest pub we could find, and this is where the wonder of God’s love and grace came home beautifully through the medium of His creation. One of the group noticed a sheep trapped between a stone wall and an open gate. The sheep had gone as far along as it could but now finding itself wedged in, it was unable to turn around. Confidently he went over to the sheep, calming it gently before slowly opening the gate and shooing it on its way back to the flock.

Oh wow, there in the flesh, or wool, the words of Jesus came to life, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? When home, he calls together his friends and neighbours to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15:4ff) Now forgive me if that sounds a little over the top for such a simple act, but over the weekend I had been chatting with one of the group about how God had been pursuing him for years and God the good shepherd would not relent until he too was freed from what held him and returned to the flock. This incredible story about God’s goodness to this man was made real by this simple act of freeing the sheep. At this we went on our way rejoicing, feeling a bit like a band of disciples, praising God for the day but questioning the role of midges.

If you haven’t been on an Oaks men’s weekend, I would encourage you to chat with Garrod Gray. Good food and good company a chance to get to know each other more whilst experiencing God too. Get in touch with Garrod via our contact page for more information.