The cafe was packed; chatter coming from every corner. I kept watching a young couple across from me laughing and leaning into their computers, sipping a latte. The Lord had told me I needed to talk with them, but I was facing a dilemma. This wasn’t 44th and Lexington, but Taipei, Taiwan. A not-so-small language barrier had pushed the pause button to my nerve. For a moment I debated the Holy Spirit, but in the end He simply said, “Go!” Turns out they spoke perfect English, and offered me a seat.
David is a youth pastor from the largest church in Southern Taiwan, and a local legend for how he has grown his youth group, and for the books he has published. Out of a 2.5 million population, God had led me to the one person I was most interested in talking with. I began to ask him questions about youth ministry in his country, beginning with the challenges he faced. But he demurred. “I don’t like to talk about challenges,” he began. “We like to focus on what He has given us, thank Him, and believe Him that He will do more than we ever thought or imagined.” I was humbled, honestly. David had chosen to live from the point of view of God, not his own limitations. A humble respect in the power of God, and a belief that what He began, He will finish.
It’s easy to miss God’s point of view when we study the world’s morass of failing ideals, moral compromise and blatant sin. David reminded me that I can choose rather to see how God is using it to draw a generation closer to Himself. This afternoon on the bus I met a young man on the way to the hospital to see his first new-born child. He was out of his mind with excitement. Our conversation led quickly to mistakes made in high school which had led him into the wilds, and into pending hardship. But his heart was soft to the things of God! He told me he had read St. Augustine’s confessions! “I guess if God can restore his life, he can do the same for mine,” he said.
What is God’s point of view? I like to call it Milk & Cookies Theology. Follow me into the dining room, and seated at a formal table is a young man playing with clay. He’s having a great time, and making a royal mess of things. Now imagine that his mother will soon be entertaining on the very table. How does she feel? Stressed, annoyed, or perhaps disgusted by all the work her son creates? I don’t think so. When she announces ‘milk and cookies,’ he will lift his head, smell the aroma coming from the kitchen, and make a bee-line there. Then she’ll be able to wipe the table clean, and prepare it for dinner.
This is what I know. God has a plan to restore, and re-launch our world into a clean and ordered table set for dinner. That’s because from God’s point of view the milk and cookies are already in the kitchen. If for a moment we take our eyes off that truth, we will tend to focus too much attention on the great issues of the time, instead of trusting God to use those to soften hearts seeking His.
The idea Jesus left us when he said, ‘life I give you in abundance’ is that we would live by faith in what He see’s—a soon to be table set for dinner. By faith He wants us to sit down each day to enjoy Him there. Prayer takes our eyes off the mounds of clay, and puts them squarely upon the table. How you might ask? By lifting our eyes away from the crucible of pressure, setbacks, challenges and hardships, and putting them squarely in the promise that He wants to do through our surrendered life more than we could ever imagine ourselves. The purpose of prayer is intimacy, a love strong enough to fuse our impossible challenges with His unmovable redemption. It’s not goose bumps that lift our eyes, but a spot on certainty that He’s bigger than the mess we’ve created.
The milk and cookies are served. When He’s ready, he will wipe the table clean, and invite us to dinner.