I Just Bought a Castle!

Scrambled eggs, castles, and Jesus.
Our breakfast together was deep, divinely appointed, and most definitely unexpected.
I was returning to my seat after refilling my good (pause) Texas (pause) coffee when Jill Briscoe was standing in my path. Before I knew it, my words leaped out with joy to thank her for the message she had spoken at the IF:Gathering the day before.
“Hi Jill, my name is Annie. Thank you for your message about losing ‘your edge.’ I’ll always remember that we have to identify the specific place where we lost our joy, our love, our passion, and perhaps Jesus. And only when we identify the place of lost, can we ask God to help us find it again.”
That was it. But that’s where God began.
The waiter told us to sit down and order. Under his brisk direction, we sat down and a friendship was forged.
We talked about Jill’s time at Cambridge and listening to C.S. Lewis. We talked about her teaching days in the red light district of Liverpool where her troubled youth could only go to the safest place—listening to the Beatles. We talked about her friendship with Cory Ten Boom and the Graham family.
History. Real life history unfolding. Was this really happening? As the noise grew louder behind us, I leaned in further—to hear about the beginning of her ministry.
And the purchase of the castle.
Major Ian Thomas, inspired by the lost Nazi youth after WWII, commissioned his wife, Joan, to purchase the Capernwray castle in 1946. Capernwray.org says, “Longing for a place where young people could come for not only a good holiday, but somewhere they could hear clearly the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives, he (Major Thomas) sent a telegram to his wife, asking her to go and bid for Capernwray Hall at the auction.
Together they scraped together a few war savings and when the bidding reached the limit they had previously agreed, for just a minimal additional amount, Capernwray Hall became the property of the Thomas family … little knowing or realizing the full significance that day was going to have for [Joan], her family, and for thousands of people from every corner of the world. Her Bible reading that morning had been Psalm 31 (note v.8), “Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your hearts all ye that hope in the Lord.”
Fast forward to the day that Jill brought her troubled boys from Liverpool to Capernwray where she not only began a life long friendship with the Thomas’ but also met her future husband, Stuart.
“Why am I telling you all of this?” she paused.
Because, Jill, I have just bought a castle!
What? Her eyes brightened, her head tilted, and her smiled confirmed, “Yes, Annie. We were supposed to meet.”
I told her about my parent’s office building that Curry and I have just bought to be the home base for ThouArtExalted Ministries. I told her about the high bids for renovation, the unknown, and the loan we were about to make.
While I was speaking, it was as if God was whispering, “Keep going, Annie. Keep going. This will be my space. My castle. I did not save this space for you. I saved this space for Me.”
Capernwray has little resemblance to 1816 Talbot, but the confirmation is just as clear. “Be of good courage, Annie. I will strengthen your heart because your hope is in Me. This place will be used for many to come to know the good news of Jesus.”
As my coffee was getting colder, you could not have pulled me from my seat. Jill and I were meant to have breakfast. We were meant to meet. The conversations continued as she told me about her prison ministry, watching her generation leave the church, the American church at large, and the changes she has witnessed. We talked about her children, grandchildren, and her first great-grandchild on the way. What joy! What encouragement! Jill’s faith reminded me of Philippians 4:4.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Jill’s perseverance to minister to troubled youth, her obedience to move across the ocean to a new land, her delight and desire to sit with a new friend, and her faith made it very clear to me — her gentleness was evident. Her worries were handed over. Her thankfulness was voiced. And her heart was guarded by His peace. I am forever grateful for this “Nana.”
A week ago, I had no idea I would be in Dallas at my first IF:Gathering. I had no idea my sweet friend, Sarah Harmeyer, would ask me to come. I had no idea I would nervously step into a room with the women I had read “with,” studied from, watched, and listened to were chit-chatting and laughing, praying and praising. I had no idea I would personally thank Jennie Allen for the dream God gave her to reach women with the good news of Jesus.
But God is the God of “no ideas” and big dreams and buying castles. And we are women of this generation called to teach the good news of Jesus.
We are called to sit down and listen to someone’s story.
We are called to lean in and pray.
We are called to buy castles.
Because where there is a castle, there is a King.
And where there is a King, there are children of the King.
And where there are children, there is child-like faith, friends, wisdom, love, scrambled eggs and coffee.
Go ahead. Step into faith and purchase a castle.
Your King is waiting.
For more information about Jill Briscoe IF:Gathering, Capernwray, and Torchbearers, please see https://justbetweenus.org/topics/jill-briscoe/,https://www.ifgathering.com/, https://capernwray.org/, https://torchbearers.org/
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