I was working out just a bit ago, and I was thinking about the type of person I don’t want to become. I don’t want to be the guy who only talks about the thing God has given me, and not God Himself.
I have been posting a great many updates on the cafe, and I am so filled with joy and excitement it is pouring out on my social media sites. But I think that it can easily be confused as to think that my passion and life are about the cafe. It is not. My passion, my life, and my focus is Jesus, the man I encountered in Iraq.
The cafe is something God has called me to. He gave me the vision for the cafe several years ago, it just took time to formulate and become clear. The cafe is the tool, He is the reason. What I mean by that is the cafe will simply be a revenue source, and a vital geographical location on main street. But the purpose of the cafe is to serve the people. The money, the location, the resources will all be used to serve people, and to point them to Jesus.
The reason I am so excited about the cafe is that it has been a testimony to the realness of God. I remember the day I walked into the building, I remember the days I brought other people with me. The building itself was a mountain. It had been vacant for over 15 years. In that time it had become a trash dump, a house for all kinds of rodents, and a smelly, dirty, falling apart mess. I remember the day I brought an inspector in, a christian friend of mine. I remember him walking around the building mumbling to himself. He ended his tour with some of the most real words I have ever been told…. “Chris, what are you doing?” He asked. I told him. He responded, “If you do this, if you get into this building and it fails, you aren’t just risking people’s money. You are risking your reputation. You have spent years working here in Ogden, telling people about your relationship with the Lord. If you fail, nobody will have reason to believe you anymore.”
He went after the only thing that really matters to me. All I want is for my life to be a testimony to the realness of the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent. I want everything about my life, my work, and my relationships to be all about that. He basically said if I fail, I lose all of that. That was a bad, bad day.
But I still remember he wasn’t the only one, I remember the faces as people walked into this building I claimed God had a plan for. I remember the looks of disgust, and wondered if they were going to throw up on the floor. I remember as we tore down walls and nests and poop fell on our heads I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” I remember when the contracting company who was going to do the work backed out, and I thought the dream was dead. I remember the early stages of this when the only thing I had, was a promise from God, “This building is the one I chose.” So in spite of the self doubt, and the people looking at me as if I was a mad man, I kept going.
So here I sit, almost two years later. We have seen all of the progress I have shown in pictures. Walls, lights, floor… And while we still have a long way to go, I find myself sitting in that building, all by myself, thinking, “God, I love you so much. I cannot believe you have done all of this.” Through this entire process, God has answered prayer, after prayer, after prayer. In my personal life, in the building, in my walk with Him. He has been faithful in my doubts, depression, and anger. He has been constant, unchanging, and affirming of this entire thing the whole way.
The cafe isn’t my passion. It is however a building where God has shown Himself. It’s for that reason so many of my posts have been cafe related. As I walk into the building I see such a living parable. The building was a train wreck, the worst property on main street left. In order to make it new, we had to tear everything down. Very little of it’s old self could remain. The building had to give up everything except its “Guts.” The frame and floor.
When we ripped everything out, we could then make it new, in our image. We hung insulation, redesigned the inside, framed new walls, new floors, and new electric. The most beautiful thing is that the building still has imperfections and will always have flaws, but the reality is that to me, the building is beautiful. I would never pick another building. While some people might walk in and notice a beam that needs sanded, or an imperfection on the wall, I will never fix it. One day, the building will be filled with people, and I will explain how this building is exactly how God sees us. In order to have a relationship with Him, we have to surrender everything. But He will make us completely new, and yes, we will still have flaws, sins, and failures, but He will choose to only see the progress made, the new person in Him. This building will forever be a living example of what God does to the soul.
The exterior change is coming. But again, the building has been redeemed in the exact same way we are redeemed. We started on the inside, where nobody really sees what is going on. Some people notice, and ask questions, but most people have no clue as they drive by the building. But as we are nearing the end of the internal renovation, the external fruit is coming. Soon, the outside will look as redeemed as the inside. But this transformation has come from the inside out.
So as I post pictures, please see my reason. Not because the cafe is where I am focused, but because I am focused on the one who made an insane dream become a reality. He has taken an unfaithful, unwilling person, and given me a calling far outside my gifts, abilities, and knowledge. But while I might not know how to do this, luckily my Father knows some people. And He sent them to help me.
2 Corinthians 5:18, “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”