Our friend Estter snapped this photo of us last week when we first went to this amazing cafe near our house.
I don't know what I was in the middle of telling Shaun when this happened but I'm guessing it was something about our little baby because I am getting SO excited about her. I talk about her a lot. Anyway after seeing this photo of us and loving every detail of the cafe in the background I decided to go back there with my friends to take some more pictures. I shared a few of them on the bottom of this page.
There is nothing like European chocolate. Nothing. It is sweet and rich and melty and perfect. I have grown up on American chocolate so I didn’t know what I was missing until I came over here and tasted the real stuff. That’s when I understood why Europeans always looked at me with compassion and pity in their eyes as I unwrapped my Hershey’s dark chocolate with almonds… “Poor girl,” they thought. “She has no idea what she is missing.” Now I find myself giving the same look to Americans when they tell me about their excitement for things like Reese’s and M & M’s… “Oh no friend, you have no clue… that’s just kid stuff compared to the glory of Cadbury’s and Lindt and literally anything made in Switzerland.” We just don’t know what we are missing until we have encountered the real thing.
It was like that for me with Jesus too.
I remember being in high school and seeing friends who seemed to have a real relationship with Jesus. I don’t mean that they attended church and abstained from drinking or cussing, because those things in themselves are not appealing to me, but I mean they had relationships with Jesus which seemed to be satisfying and alive. I thought it was pretty cool. But I also thought I wasn’t missing anything by not being a Christ-follower like them. I actually had fun doing life the way I was doing it. Late nights, cute guys, long drives to the mountains, drinking too much, being the fun girl who sometimes smoked weed with the guys in their garage, I felt like the life I was living was pretty satisfying.
This morning I sat around the breakfast table with 10 skateboarding who are here for the Calling All Skater Discipleship Training School that Shaun is leading. Some of them smelled like they needed a shower, my husband falling into that category, most of them from America and Canada, with one from Japan and another from Chile. Together we ate toast and oranges and read from Luke chapter 3 in the Bible. We talked about what a kook John the Baptist was because he ate bugs and honey and wore camel skin. We also talked about how much he loved God and wasn’t afraid of what other people thought of him. His priority was simply to do the thing that God had called him to do. We loved that.
The skaters varied both in age and in life circumstances. Jason from California is 32, he has long shaggy blonde hair and tattoos. Tejae is 31 and is here with his wife Katrina and their two young sons. After they do this school their family is moving to Asia as long-term missionaries to skateboarders there. Matt from Canada is almost 21, he is quiet, clean looking and has nice eyes. Diego, our Chilean skater, is outgoing and dresses a bit like a gangster, baggy clothes, cool shoes, and a big flat-billed hat. Senzo, our Japanese skater, is a student at Azusa Pacific University, but he is taking the semester off to be with us here in Spain. There are others in the crew too but I’ll tell you about them another day. My point is just that the skaters around my table weren’t all alike, they were unique and different but they have two things in common: they are skateboarders and they love Jesus.
At one point Jason was telling us about a conversation he had yesterday with some skaters he met from Switzerland. They were talking about having fun. The Swiss guys were talking about how awesome it is to rage, drink, smoke and get wild. Jason was talking about how much fun he is having “raging” in different ways. Because Jason used to party hard, which is evident just by looking at him, but he told the guys about how he started following Jesus and how it was no less fun than those nights of raging, but the difference was that he didn’t feel like crap the next day. The Swiss guys didn’t know Jesus but they agreed that after a night of raging, they always feel like garbage too. They were genuinely intrigued by Jason’s lifestyle and his ability to have fun without things like drugs and drunkenness.
We are all hungry. Not physically, but somewhere inside of us, coming from a place deeper than our stomachs, is a hunger for richness and beauty. We crave meaning. We desire wholeness. We long for that thing we catch glimpses of when we listen to certain music or experience certain art. Maybe we can’t even articulate the thing we want, but we feel it. All of us feel it.
Yesterday evening I was walking here in Barcelona and thinking about you. Not that I know who you are exactly, but I mean the “you” who would stumble across this blog of mine. I was thinking of what I want for you and what I wish you knew about yourself. I was thinking about how much alike we are, and how even if I haven’t walked in your shoes or you haven’t lived in mine, we have probably experienced many of the same emotions. We have both felt afraid. We have both experienced heart-ache. We have both wondered what the point of life is and we have both wished “that person” would look our way and like what they see in us. We have both dreamed. We have both hungered. And we have both attempted to satisfy our hunger in various ways. We get each other. Or at least we should. Because even if we disagree on almost every issue life presents us with, we aren’t so different in our beings. We aren’t so different in our appetites.
I believe we were all created with an appetite. A heavenly one. Just like I believe our mouths were formed with an appetite for European chocolate, our souls were formed with an appetite for the things of heaven. But something sad happens when we allow ourselves to be satisfied by lesser things. Our hunger grows dormant. We don’t crave Cadbury’s when our mouths are full of Hershey’s. We don’t crave meaningful living when our nights are full of drunken raging. And just as the Swiss people look at Americans and our chocolate with faces of obvious pity, I believe heaven does the same when we buy into ideas like “YOLO”, “Live fast and die young”, “I’m just gonna do me”, and “Do whatever makes you feel good.” We cheat ourselves when we settle for American chocolate and we cheat everybody when we settle for selfish living.
The things of Heaven are things of wonder and power. People healed of heartache and illness. Marriages restored after porn addictions and unfaithfulness. Teens walking out of depression and into meaningful living. Business people using their skills and sharp minds to shift the economies of entire nations. Models using their influence as platforms of encouragement. Churches using their buildings as shelters for the homeless and broken. Children raised by faithful loving parents.
Skateboarders using their skating to invest in skaters of other nations, spending their nights “raging” without drugs and drunkenness but with authentic joy of the Holy Spirit and genuine love for others, and giving their very lives as vessels to better the lives of those around them.
I have found no better chocolate than the kind that comes from Switzerland.
And I have found no better love than the kind that comes from God.
If you’ve been eating Hershey’s, put it down, and pick up some Lindt. And if you’ve been settling for a life of “I’m just gonna do me”, I recommend you put that down too, pick up Jesus and taste the reality of heaven.