We are into the first week of January 2016. This is becoming kind of a scary reality… January 18th we will begin construction on the café. For years we have talked about a vision, one that was given to us. While many of the specifics had to be worked out (largely through my mistakes) we kept seeking God’s will. Now we are on the eve of building this dream, and making it a reality.
I should be rejoicing. I should be filled with such excitement that this post should be even more joy filled than the last one. But if there is one thing I want to be, it’s honest. I am excited. I am thankful for the ways that God has provided to this point, and the amazing things He has done for this vision and for me personally. But I am also nervous and a little afraid I guess.
I have always loved history, so much so that I obtained a degree in that field. One of the things I think about often is what it would have been like in the shoes of the people we read about. Quinn and I had our first major compromise of our marriage shortly after the wedding. We agreed to an “east coast road trip.” We drove east, and along the way we hit all the major historical towns and event sites. In return, Quinn wanted to stop and see the big cities, New York, Boston, DC, and many more. I stood on Lexington Green, where Captain Parker told his men, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here.” With that rally cry, the war for America’s independence began. I remember thinking what it must have been like to be faced with the reality of that final part. “If they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” They knew any shots fired would ignite a war. They took the shot.
I know God designed me this way, because I also think this way when I read Scripture. As I get closer to January 18th and the construction beginning, I think about the Israelites and the Red Sea. I think about how they left Egypt and followed God to what seemed like a dead end. I think about how they followed God to a point of no return. No matter what happened they couldn’t just turn around and go back now. What was it like? What were they thinking in that moment? They were literally running from their past life of slavery, and their future was blocked by an impassable mass of water. For a moment in time they were pressed from all sides. Before the miracle, there was desolation.
Mentally I am where the Israelites were physically… Where those men in Lexington were at. I have twelve days to back out, but just like Israel, I know I can’t. It’s like a calm right before the storm hits, and for a moment you have an opportunity to bail, or stay and fight. In front of me is this insane idea to start a business. I have no experience, no business management education or wisdom. All I have is the heartfelt belief that the Holy Spirit led me here. In front of me is the vision God has given me, a non-profit business that has one goal in mind – holistic healing of an entire community. We believe God is going to use the café to address the physical needs in Ogden; poverty, hunger, unemployment, etc. while simultaneously addressing the Spiritual depravity of our community. I believe the “The House” will be a tool God uses, and that the Gospel will transform lives in this community, and in time, transform our community of Ogden.
Behind me is the past. This last year has been rough. Financial stresses have come from every angle, we have had personal conflict with people and church, I have been frustrated and stressed and felt the urge to just abandon the path I am on. Semi-regularly I am riddled with doubt about how God could have called a guy like me to such a public ministry. But, it’s like Israel in their Red Sea moment; they had gone too far to go back. I really do believe they had a moment where they thought, “Well, let’s just go back” immediately followed by, “Well that won’t work.” In fact the more I read the Scriptures, the more I see that so many people who followed God had a moment of choice. They had a moment where they either choose to trust God and act… Or they show they don’t believe Him at all and turn away. But when the flesh gets me to think about leaving, I feel like Peter. Jesus gave a hard teaching, and everybody was leaving. Jesus looked at Peter and asked, “Are you going to leave Me too?” Peter said, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68)?”
This is the passage the Holy Spirit has pressed upon my heart the last six months. I have, in my eyes at least, so many reasons to not go forward. I have sin, deficiencies, shortcomings, failures, doubts, and so many reasons I think to myself I can’t do what we are about to do. But, every time I pray and bring up quitting, or I get angry and audibly say, “I’m done” this passage comes to my mind. Every time. And every time the Holy Spirit leads me here, He has one question, “Where will you go?”
I know the answer to that question. Where I will go is outside of the will of God. Time and time again when I am faced with that reality through John 6, I stop. I stop saying I will quit because I know I won’t. I can’t. I cannot purposefully and willfully make a life decision God disagrees with. I can’t do it. Even when so much of my flesh is pulling at me to stop. In a moment of weakness, I can say I will do it, but I won’t. I won’t because I love Jesus.
So right now, at this moment, I mentally feel like Paul in 2 Corinthians 4, “Afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).” So in twelve days, we start building a café. In twelve days I will take that first step onto this unknown path. I will be honest though, I need people to do it with me. So… I am asking you to pray for how you can be involved in this. We need committed volunteers and we need to know who they are and how often they are willing to work. We also need help financially as we are still almost $10,000 short of our final goal. Even $10 helps us, because from our perspective that is an 8 foot 2×4, or two square feet of flooring. And frankly, we need prayer. The closer we get to the beginning of construction, the more opposition we seem to face.
The questions are far more abundant than the answers right now. But that is what faith is. So no matter how many doubts or flesh battles I have, I know I will be there January 18. I know God will provide. And I know things will not be the same here in Ogden.