Sunday, January 24, 2010

Surprised by Chai

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called "Surprised By Joy" in which he details the surprise, romantic relationship and marriage God brought to him in his later years. I'm not nearly as old as he was when wrote that, and I hope I'm as much surprised by the joy of such a relationship before that age. For now, however, I'm finding myself surprised by Chai.

As many of you know, I went through a great withdrawal season when Borders switched all of their cafes to Seattle's Best, no longer serving my beloved substance, that most glorious Borders Chai. And though I have made attempts to concoct my own heavenly brew, I can never quite match the taste of that legendary liquid I used to consume. It's no surprise then that sometimes I have dreams of finding this kind of Chai again in the most random of places.

What's shocking is that these dreams are becoming a reality.

Months ago, I was visiting the International House of Prayer in Kansas City where I stumbled across a Chai that most certainly resembled in taste and texture the wonderful drink I used to get from Borders. I was amazed! When I asked what kind of Chai they were using, they told me "Big Train." Big Train. Remember.

So since then I have wanted to get some Big Train Chai, see if it really is the same stuff, but due to limited resources and feeling like I should spend my money on more reasonable things, I've held off on making such a purchase. Big Train.

Just before Christmas I was thinking of ordering myself some of this Chai to enjoy on my visit to Houston for the holidays. But I didn't. And just two nights ago, I was talking to some friends about Big Train Chai, suggesting they order some to consider selling at their coming coffee bar (check out But I didn't intend to get any myself.

Surprise surprise! Tonight, at the invitation of some of my other friends, Joel and Elda, I came to their house and received one of the best gifts a man like me could ever hope to receive: a large canister of Big Train Chai! I was ecstatic! I opened the canister almost instantly, sniffing and inhaling the sweet aroma like an addict who's gone months without his fix. Ah......Ah.......AH! JESUS JESUS JESUS! (If you think I'm making this up, ask Joel and Elda. They were there to witness my elation, and it sounded much like I'm describing here!) They proceeded to tell me that they wanted to get me something for taking them to the airport back in December. This was just before I left home for Christmas...the same time I was thinking about Big Train Chai. Coincidence? No.

I'm in love with a God who knows my deepest desires, who woos me with gifts and sweet whispers and longs for me to pursue him in return. I believe in a Jesus who wants to give me "life and life to the full." I'm a friend of this crazy God who backs statements like, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." -Psalm 37:4 I'm in love with a God who loves me and loves that I love Chai because he loves Chai...and likes to surprise me with it.

I think what I'm most surprised by is the fact that I really didn't do anything to procure this. I didn't order the Chai, didn't ask my friends, "Hey, can you get me some of this stuff?" didn't beg and plead for God to bless me with...well, maybe I did ask him back in December. But I didn't do anything to get it. He just gave it to me and in his crazy timing.

I love this God of surprises. I love how he loves to show me himself through other people. Sometimes I say, "Jesus, I want to see your face." And I often forget that I get to see him all the time in other people, in my roommate, in my friends, in the guys that are helping me work out three times a week and pushing me further so I can get in the shape that I want to be.

Surprise me more, God, and continue to do so through the people you have made!

Let's get ready for surprises, shall we? Surprised by CHAI!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Enjoying the Process (or Drinking with Jesus)

I've been feeling heavy this morning and much of yesterday as well. I've wanted to get so much done and have actually been somewhat productive but still lacking the greater results I want to see. I have been seeking God for solutions, answers, revelation. And what I got just awhile ago was so much better.

I had it all planned. I was going to wake up early today (which I did), read my Bible part of the time (which I did), and do some strategic planning with God to create more structure in my life and hopefully a more productive day-to-day lifestyle. This strategic planning hasn't happened yet. I thought A and B would lead to C, but the thing is that A and B left me high and dry. And it's not that waking up early and reading my Bible were bad things. Those are good things! But Jesus showed me that instead of searching the Scriptures for him, I was just looking for answers, solutions, results. Is that bad? Not entirely. God is full of answers. He calls us to seek wisdom, search it out, all that good stuff. But my primary motive was off. I was seeking him, but not so much for him. More of a side-thought to get what I really wanted: more clarity, more results, more progress.

As none of this was bearing any fruit (not to my knowledge anyway), I decided to pop in a CD that had a sermon on it a friend gave me from Bethel church (, the title being "Enjoying the Process." It was about how we're so results oriented in our western mindsets that we often get sidetracked from just enjoying the process with God, getting to know him, BEING with him. And I began to cry as I realized I wasn't seeking Jesus this morning as much as the results he might give me.

Here's a thought. Who of your best friends, or let's say best long-distance friends, have you had the best time with? And what are you doing in that time? Are you actually DOING something? Or is most of the good stuff happening in the being, the talking, the sharing of life? How much of what's going on, whether in person or on the phone, is instructional, and how much is simply relational? As for me, why do I feel like more often than not, if I'm gonna get something from God, it's got to be instructional? Don't get me wrong, I know the Bible speaks of God confiding in those who fear him. He makes known the paths of life, he teaches us truth, etc. But is that limited to didactic truth? Might some of that life, that truth, that knowledge include things like, "This is why I love the color green," or "You are so beautiful to me, " or "I want to share with you the joy of making a snowman" ?

Process. Jesus. Process. I don't want to just feel the effects of the caffeine pulsating through my veins, waking me up and making me happy. I want to participate in making the Chai, peeling the ginger, crushing the cardamom, watching the cinnamon sticks simmer with the black tea as it creates a lush rue before adding the creamy delight. I want to taste the tea on my tongue, embracing every spice, and swallow. I want to drink Chai with Jesus. I want to drink him in. Would you like to drink with us?