Wednesday, October 16, 2013

life // a story of fulfilling hope - 3

I suppose I never actually finished the story.  But I couldn't wait and had to keep posting.  Anyway, this is installment three of how I ended up doing what I am doing now.  Parts one and two.

Behind the Bar

Timeframe: June.
The more that I committed to that non-profit, volunteer-run cafe, Surfers Coffee Bar, the more my heart felt at home.  "Home" as in, this place is assuredly flawed and imperfect, but my soul is comfortable here.  I relished in the little moments where I saw Life flowing.  And yet, SCB was feeling the reality of Life Flow: when you say that something "grows," you are also alluding to change and transition.  And some of the SCB crew felt that persuasion to follow the call of God onto other paths.  We know and understand this; people leave, and in sadness and trust, we release them to do what God ordains over their lives.

Inside of me, as people stepped out of this SCB arena, the need was present- and I wanted to step in.  But was it my place?  Was it my place to volunteer to take on a staff position?  There are steps, orders, programs - I should do Internship and Leadership School and make a long-term commitments and find support (!!) et et etc...

And why was this a pressing matter?  Why am I so preoccupied by wanting to be a part of a business that could pay me nothing, much less guarantee a fulfilled heart?  Seeing the cloud over my head, my sister spelled it out for me: it's obvious that God Himself impressed this upon my heart.  This is something I believe in.  If it were any other occupation, I would have passed it on, and looked for something else.  But I held out for it.  And I didn't know what to do with the uncommon urge to serve in SCB.

... except wait. Wait on His words, wait on His confirmations, wait on His promptings.

I've realized how much joy it brings to Abba when He sees us wait.  I think He delights to see us committed to the unknown.  In the waiting, we trust that whatever He is about to bring is good - and in the waiting, He remains good.

You could say that there have been holes in my heart when it comes to belonging.  And Abba has done a remarkable job filling those gaps, way into the hairline cracks.  After over a month of waiting on God to speak, Tom and Charis sat me down that June evening and officially welcomed me as a part of Surfers Coffee Bar.  And not just into SCB - I was invited into the family of Surfing the Nations (the fraternal twin of SCB, if you will).  And they affirmed me, encouraged me, extended the Love of God... and challenged me to extend the Love out again.  To serve with this non-profit wouldn't just be "doing good, being good," their whole motto is meeting needs and changing lives.  If we needed to label it, this is also called being a missionary.  The fact that I'm from this town- that would make me a local missionary.

It wrecked me.  God didn't just make a mild impression on my heart, He went into those hairline cracks and filled them, and kept on filling, until I couldn't contain Him - and I felt an explosion of His presence.  I am broken for the better, and He is rebuilding me.

A little meeting like that, and I felt like I belonged.

When God places His hand upon your heart, and gently nudges you to move forward, He prepares the way.  Doesn't mean that the path is smooth, but the path is straight.  I chose to follow wherever the Light leads.  The Light has been only centimeters ahead of my toes, but it led me here - right back to my city.  The Light led me back home.


Monday, October 14, 2013

On Finances, Fear, and Faith, and Words.

On my doorstep.

Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have,
because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you."
So we say with confidence:
"The LORD is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"

Remember your leaders,
who spoke the Word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life
and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13.5-8

I read this aloud tonight to my housemates; mostly to build up my faith, but also because I felt like I destroyed theirs.

It was a horribly long day today, and I became so exhausted, I could cry myself to sleep, quite literally.  While tired, thoughts of finances and provision for me, as well as our household, started to swarm in my mind.  It made me half frustrated and half fearful.  And I began to address financial issues - definitely not the wisest action, because it stirred doubt into all of us.  We became worried, and as we began to consider different ways to raise finances, one could tell that these ideas were bred out of panic, and not strategies from a heart in peace.  I obviously killed a pleasant mood.

When I went into my room, I realized that I brought this fear in.  Sure, I was tired, and we can say that it was my flesh speaking - but there is no valid time for me to justify the actions of my flesh.  I have been called to live by the Spirit.

The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is Life and Peace.

Romans 8.6

I apologized for these things, and read that passage from Hebrews - mostly for me, but also for my sisters who I have wronged.  There is no reason for us to fear or be consumed with finances.  Jesus promises that He will never leave or forsake us, and there is nothing to fear.  He is the same God Who performed miracles in the past, and He can do them again today, and will continue to prove Himself though the future.

Sure- when we look at our bank accounts, it strains our minds to comprehend how God will provide for this place that He promised to us.  But that is just it - He promised this House to us, and we have named it Hale Akua, the House of God, and because He started this work, He will be faithful to see it through.


So Abba, I approach you tonight, still tired, but I'm coming in faith, thanking You for being faithful in more ways than I can remember.  Thank You for caring for our hearts, and caring for our well-being, and for blessing us with a house that serves as a home for lonely souls.  Teach us how to trust You; help our unbelief; strengthen our faith.  You give grace in the places we constantly fail, and help us to receive it as freely as You give it.  Guard my words from destruction; rather, let them be instruments of peace and hope.  Give us Your heart, and let us enter into Your rest.. And in our lives and in Hale Akua, Abba, make Yourself known.

Summon Your power, O God;
Show us Your strength, O God,
as You have done before.

Psalm 68.28


If you would like to donate to any of us at Hale Akua (Katie, Kirsten, Lila, and myself) we will welcome the blessing! Hale Akua also has faith that random families will step up to donate to paying off months of rent at a time.  Help believe with us!  Anything is possible!

PS. Part of my day?  Getting certified to save lives.
God help me if someone taller than me is choking....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Expecting Love

By September, I clocked excessive hours in what I had endearingly christened as the "Cave of Wonders" - the Coffee Bar office.  I took on managerial responsibilities I had no training in (except the stewardship of budgeting my own finances), and had little time to grasp it and do it well. Without question, God's care over my life was manifest through the wonderful staff around me - they grounded me with peace and joy.

And yet, I was terribly frustrated.  Mostly because I had lost my wallet, I was recuperating from a cold, and the last thing I wanted to think about was the unpredictability of human interactions across the board - work, friends, family.. humankind in general.  I became sensitive to anything that rubbed against the grains of my self-pitying soul.  I was pathetic, and lost the energy to putter around and kick lightweight furniture.  The bedroom floor was my closest friend.

But even being lame, I still (unfortunately) have my self (my thoughts) to deal with.  And in my sensitivity, I honed in on specific frustrations.  I expected these certain people to treat me with consideration in regards to the season that I am currently in- and it never happened.  How can they not see how overwhelmed I am?  How busy I am?  How sick I have been?  I wanted to add this to the list of my frustrations.

But then I thought about an old post and came to the conclusion - I cannot expect people to love me.

That may sound very brash, and it's not an exclusive statement.  But here is what I mean: I cannot demand people to love me rightly.

I cannot expect love from people as a reaction or reward for giving love.  I cannot love with the expectation to be loved in return.  It defies the point of real Love.  At least between people, it is not a sow/reap system or a fair-trade organization.  It gives freely.  Two people who love freely pour into each others vats and remain filled - instead of depleting one source.

Also, I cannot expect love from people out of entitlement.  I cannot place myself above my fellow brothers and sisters; I cannot think of them as "lower" than me, and I as one who deserves their good sacrifices.

If my love is motivated by a void in my heart that I long for others to pour into and fill, I will be unsatisfied- without a doubt.  "I want to be loved (in this way), so I will love tremendously (in this way) so that they will love me back (in this way)." This is faulty- what if the other end does not interpret that as love?  What if the other end loves in return, but in a different form, causing disappointment?

I cannot love with the expectation to be loved in return.

With these thoughts as a preface, I must accept every act of love as a gift - as an act of supernatural grace that I have done nothing to deserve or earn.  I must take love with sincere and pure gratitude, even responding in praise to God for His goodness.  To be loved is a blessing, an undeserved gift, mercy manifest in grace.  When we give and have been given unconditional love, the pressure of loving rightly is alleviated.  And both of us are full.

A recently-found doodle from last years moleskine.


I don't think anything's changed with the sources of my frustrations, except the grace of God calming me down.  But my eyes were opened to a totally separate phenomenon - that in the moments I am most overworked and stressed, someone always comes to visit, either home or work, and blesses me with food.  It seems so simple, and yet, the provision is a reminder that God cares about the minute details of my life - what more with the greater things!  He proves His faithfulness meal by meal.

I thought about my ingratitude, and how I expected love from sources that left me dry.  I could have completely missed out on the goodness that is before my eyes.  And this goodness is undeserved - acts of love and supernatural grace that are absolute blessings.


God is drawn to the voids in our life.  He fills the gaps, the emptiness; He is like a river that rushes to the lowest places.  He seeps into the cracks and crevices of our rock-solid, cold souls.  And He softens us and breaks us, and He is gentle, meek, and kind.  He is a Love that we can always expect to satisfy every need and every longing.  To seek the Love of God is a hope that will always be fulfilled.

I am letting my soul soak in this Truth.  If I give love, it must be because I have His love.  And if people disappoint me, His love will keep surrounding me.  And I can rest in this.

BTW, if I ever lose my wallet again....


currently listening: Lent, The Brilliance
currently reading: The Root of Righteousness, AW Tozer