It was a rare morning. I got into a habit of sleeping in for a while now but that morning, I felt the strong urge to go down for some quiet time alone. It was a little after five in the morning. It was still as dark as a midnight as I sat alone under a dim kitchen light with a cup of coffee and my Bible. I have long forgotten the sacredness of the early hours. It was these dark and quiet hours that kept me inspired. When my life was deprived of all the joys and my heart a barren place of desolate emptiness, it was these small hours of the morning that made my life sustainable.
I opened my Bible to find the verse for that morning. It read:
Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”2 chronicles 20:20
Disregard the historical context. All I could lay my eyes on was the first few words. Early the next morning. I was awestruck. When was the last time I sat like this in the dark alone with a Bible? I could not recall. That morning, I clearly heard the call. The morning was calling me. God was calling me back, back to the quiet life which was the centerpiece that held my scattered life together. It gave my life a theme: A life in the school of God’s Word.
It was like an unfolding dream. Throughout the day, I would live out the Scared Word I had encountered that very morning. The Message would become my guiding light throughout the day. And so, even though my life appeared to be as chaotic as one’s life could be, I had this sense of direction, peace, and contentment deep inside my heart. But when I was in most need of God’s Word during a global pandemic, I somehow lost track along the way and stopped joining God in my early hours. I have my own excuses, but they don’t matter. It’s like the story I read this morning. Just as King Amaziah bowed to the idols brought back from the enemies they conquered (with God’s help), I had forgotten how God had won the battle for me. Instead, I had succumbed to the laziness of this cocooned, isolated life. I idolized my comfortable home, the beautiful and scenic drive way and the vast land under the wide sky that I called my own yard. I would think, if I took this amount of land and place it in Seoul, I’d be the richest person that I’ve ever known.
Then the day came that I moved out of my wonderful land that I called home for a year. Even though it was a perfect place to survive the Covid months or years(!), I was ready to move forward. One sunny perfect autumn day, I moved to my new place.
I love every corner of this house. I especially love the big bay window where I placed my favorite white dining table. I can see tall bare trees adorning my much smaller backyard. I can now see the neighboring houses behind the trees not too far down the hill. Shaker Woods, this place is called. And the more days I spend here, the more the name feels right.
Life here in this new house is quite simple. I wake up, make my coffee and sit down to stare out the window where squirrels are busy gathering food for the winter, and birds fly back and forth looking for some food as well. And I, too, fill my day making breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is during these moments when I am simply focused on my daily menial labor that I realize how much I miss my simple coffee bar days on the island of Hawaii. I loved biking before dawn to the coffee bar on the ocean and following through the opening tasks. Filling the coffee pitcher, getting the beans ready, and receiving the morning pastries from the local bakery. The morning newspaper delivery of West Hawaii arrives and I finally open the door of the coffee bar to welcome my usual morning patrons. Oh, I can still vividly picture my days of a simple labor.
Today, I shopped for a bird feeder to hang outside my window to bring birds a little bit closer. I got some string lights to hang on my bay window to mimic the feeling of a coffee bar. Instead of my beloved Pacific Ocean, I will be looking out the winter woods of tall bare trees, but nonetheless a good reminder of the simplicity of life.
I can already sense that this Shaker Woods community where I call my new home has a lot to teach me. But most of all, it is going to be a perfect school of God’s Word. Once again, I will be opening my coffee bar. Only, this time, it will be right in my own kitchen. And I will leave my door wide open for my God, my very first patron of the day.