This whole café thing wasn’t my idea. My plan was to be a history teacher. In many ways I feel like a fool for doing the things I have done. I quit my job with no replacement salary, I gave up my career path, I moved myself and my family to a community with little job opportunity in our field of study. And several years ago I saw a run down building and knew God wanted to use it.
God used each of these decisions, I would say prompted these seeds of ideas in my head. Over time they turned into what Quinn and I have now, the vision of a café that uses its funds to benefit the local community. We got serious about this vision last year, we sent out donation letters, started getting the word out about what we were doing, and pushed forward in getting people to believe in the vision we had been given. All the while, in this process I wanted to keep two things. First I wanted to be the one in control, and second I wanted to keep my credibility. I have lost both of these, and I am ok with that.
A week ago the dream came crashing down. It’s funny, I remember the moment I looked at this insignificant run down building in Ogden and dreamed of turning it into something great. I remember the moment when contract negotiations were stalled out, and I looked at Quinn and said, “Listen, if this is the building God wants us to use, let’s just get to it. Let’s take an act of faith and re-model it without a contract.” I remember the landlord actually agreeing to that too. I remember when I thought I was crazy for looking at this building as the one God chose, and I started to look elsewhere. I remember the exact moment when the Holy Spirit said, “You are not picking a different building. That is the one We chose.” All the decisions I made looked pretty dumb when things were going well. Tuesday, they looked like idiocy.
One week ago today the landlord called me, he rejected our first contract proposal and we were supposed to meet and propose our second one. The conversation seemed normal, he asked questions about how much money we thought the project would take, he asked how much we had raised, he asked what we wanted to do in the building. The conversation ended as he asked me to e-mail him a copy of the proposal, so he could come to the meeting prepared. Two hours later I got the e-mail, “Go ahead and get your personal belongings out of the building, and mail me my key.” That was it. Last Tuesday everything Quinn and I have put ourselves out there for came to a pretty abrupt end. I thought the vision was dead.
I spent the first two hours after being kicked out of the property depressed. What now right? I don’t really just want to be a stay at home dad. That’s not what God called me to. But as the shock wore off, and I prayed throughout the night, peace took over. There was this moment, where I simply prayed to the Lord, “I did everything you asked, I didn’t stray from the path you gave me.” His response was simple… “I know.” So the way I looked at it was like this, if I did everything God wanted me to do, and this whole thing failed… Then I crashed and burned obediently. So I had Shalom, what the bible simply calls “God’s peace.” It was weird.
Wednesday morning came, and I met the landlord at the building. I had cancelled on our contractors and I was ready to hand over the key. He got out of the car and as we walked up I said, “Well, you at least want to see the building’s progress?” He said, “Might as well.” Then before we got to the building door, craziness ensued.
He changed his mind about the contract, he wanted to work it out. He started offering me supplies in the building that were off limits, he offered to get his church to raise money for the project, he offered two years free rent…. As he was talking I wasn’t even listening. I am not going to lie. By the time he got to the third item I left the conversation. I don’t know where I went, but I left.
So here I sit, seven days later. We just signed a lease on the building. We have 24 months of $1 rent to make it legal. The building I looked at over three years ago and saw what God wanted out of it is now mine (kind of). I re-touched base with the contractors and things are back on.
The craziest part of the whole story is why God did it. God had a purpose in letting the bottom fall out of this whole thing, and He didn’t keep it a secret. God is sovereign. He created all things, sustains all things, redeems all things… and even compels hearts to accomplish His plans. I am Chris Jacobs, and I do none of that. The two things I was holding onto (reputation and control) were really stressing me out, because I knew they weren’t really mine, but I didn’t want God to have them either. So for twelve hours, God took all of it out of my hands and showed me how silly it was to think I had control over anything.
The good news is I am not stressed about any of that stuff anymore. Money, contractors, timeline, volunteers… Turns out I don’t have any control over that. God does. So we have a contract for two years. And now I move forward with that. I have to go now, I think my son is ramming his head into a door to get out of nap time.