Journey to Northwoods

The early morning frost blanketed the silent landscape surrounding the Northwoods Conference Center. When the sun began to rise at 7:00, I stepped outside to take in the serenity. It was completely different than a normal Tuesday morning at work in Chicago.

A frosty morning sunrise

Back in September, when I heard that the Life FOCUS group was going on a  Journey To The Heart in late October, I began to seek the Lord’s will about possibly joining them. The work at Headquarters had been increasingly hectic, and a week set apart to seek the Lord and be rejuvenated in Him seemed a worthwhile opportunity. Brother Michael, Joshua and Matthew Wilkes and several other guys I knew well were part of this FOCUS group and I knew the fellowship would be rich and meaningful. I would also have the opportunity to assist Chad Paine in guiding the Journey.The Northwoods Conference Center

However, I soon had to die to this desire. I was needed more at Headquarters than I was in Life FOCUS. Getting the permission to go would be difficult, if not selfish. Therefore, I gave my desires to the Lord and waited.

Pensive glow of morning

A few days before the FOCUS guys arrived, I found that it would be fine with my Department to be gone for the next week. Apprehensively, I asked Mr. Gothard about it. Surprisingly, he said to plan on it! The next morning, I called the Director of FOCUS and, after telling him I had permission to go, said he could definitely use me. Praise the Lord!
Michael engrossed in personal studyLife FOCUS XVI JourneyEnjoying some time in the Word 

I have now been enjoying a week of much needed sleep, study, quiet-time, prayer and recreation. It is refreshing to be with a group of people who willingly share struggles, victories, insights and exhortations. It is amazing to see many deepen their love and commitment to the Lord. I’ve also enjoyed preparing for and leading some of the team meetings which helps me understand more fully what we are studying.

Praying together as a teamJoshua assiduously writing awayJonathan studiously writing awayAn afternoon spent in Ultimate Football

It has been good to come apart into a wilderness place and rest a while and seek the Lord. I could spend the rest of my life just reading, seeking and sharing the character of God as described in His Word. But life must go on and there is much work to be accomplished. By God’s grace, I will continue the Journey and carry the application of abiding in Christ into the daily schedules of the future.

 Truly a wilderness place


  1. Donald October 27, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    Thank you for your testimony James. Last week the Lord did the same thing for me. The Lord prompted me to wait and opened up the right days to make a trip up north back to Taoyuan and Taipei. The Lord continue to open the right doors for you as you overcome the tyranny of the urgent and find Him leading along the Journey!

  2. Robert October 27, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    James, it is encouraging to see your willingness to follow the Lord wherever He leads. I’m glad you got to go on the Journey last week! In talking with the Journey fellows today, I know you made an impact on their lives.

  3. Joshua October 28, 2008 at 7:03 am #

    Thank you James for having a vision for impacting others. I was richly blessed by the week and the inights you shared, especially in the area of a ‘Meek Heart.’ You shared some convicting truths that I am seeking to apply to my life

    Beautiful photos!

  4. Chad October 28, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    Some awesome shots James, I am glad that it worked out for you to come. May the Lord continue to bless you as serve there at HQ. Your gift of photography is inspiring.

  5. James October 28, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    When the Focus group left, I realized how long it had been since I had felt the deep sadness of the departure of true friends. I know not when I will meet any of them again. And it was only one week! It is amazing how hearts bond together when they are bound around Jesus Christ.


  1. The Paine Family » Blog Archive » All Together… - October 28, 2008

    […] the way…check out some great testimonies on the Staddon’s Family website as well as the Wilkes Team about the FOCUS […]

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