Carrying the Weight | By, Travis Gitthens

They came to the beautiful Sky Rose Ranch in San Miguel, California, on March 14, 2022, from all over our great nation.

Military, firefighters, EMS, and police. Their ages range from the mid-twenties to mid 60’s. From as far away as Hawaii, or as near as just down the road. They are husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. They are men that have sacrificed their innocence with the hope that we can retain ours.

And it has taken its toll.

They told themselves in the beginning that they won’t let it change them, they wouldn’t bring it home with them, they could handle it. So, they marched forward, bearing the burden of the traumas, the fear, and the pain, stuffing it into the “pack” they carry in their hearts.

Then that pack started to get heavy;

they began to get tired. Everyone else seemed to be handling their own packs just fine – so these men soldier-on. All searched for ways to cope with the burden: a bottle, isolation, substances, anything to take their mind off the weight.

Then the pack started to overflow. Things from their packs fell out and into their wives’ packs, their children’s packs, the burdens weighing down those they care about.

These men that started out with the intention of standing between the evil of this world and the ones they care about wake up to find they are causing pain and destruction in the lives of those same people.

What they are doing isn’t working. They are overwhelmed. They need help. They need hope.

So, they came to the beautiful Sky Rose Ranch in San Miguel, California. Some on the recommendation of close friends that have been through the program. Others are handed a plane ticket by their wives with no idea what they are getting into.

It’s hard to explain what happens during a program.

Everyone is challenged, tested, encouraged, and poured into by men who have sat in the same seats they are sitting in and have experienced the hope and restoration that God longs to give all men. Broken lives enter, strong men leave. They came with no hope, they leave with purpose. Spinning compasses are recalibrated by Biblical truths and the Holy Spirit to True North. A valley of dry bones is transformed into an army of purpose.

These men left on March 19, 2022, and returned to this great nation, having had a radical encounter with the One who sacrificed His innocence on their behalf, and the One who is strong enough to bear their burdens. The impact on their families and communities will be immediate and eternal.

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.” Psalm 68:19-20

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