We just returned from a glorious 25 day trip to Hawaii. We visited two islands, and we enjoyed every minute of every day! I have so much on my mind! God's creation is amazing! I could spend pages just reflecting on some of the things we enjoyed.
We visited a fresh lava beach that was created basically overnight in the summer of 2018. We saw beautiful waterfalls, surrounded by lush vegetation. We snorkeled at a variety of beaches, and we were never disappointed by the colors and species of fish and coral that we observed. On this particular trip we saw more sea turtles than we have ever seen before. Usually, we are happy if we view one or two during the trip. This time we were captivated by the appearance of dozens of honu (green sea turtles) and 'ea (hawksbill turtles), both under water and on the surface of the ocean waves.
We visited some new places as well as some old "friends." One of the new places was the City of Refuge. This place intrigued me as we heard about how those who had broken the law (and that could mean just looking wrong at the chief) faced execution. If they could swim the treacherous waters and cross the rough lava-formed rocks to make it to the city of refuge, they would be absolved of their crime and could rejoin their people. It struck me that Christ is our City of Refuge. We don't have to swim miles "hoping against hope" that we might make it to land. Jesus welcomes us as we confess our sins and believe in Him. We are redeemed and given access to the Heavenly Father through Christ's death on the cross. What a refuge and fortress He provides!
Another new experience this time around was our visit to a coffee farm on Kona. We learned how each coffee "cherry" is hand picked and processed with extreme care. The outer layers of the fruit must be removed to get to the core seed or coffee bean. The beans are meticulously dried and roasted to bring out the amazing aroma and flavor we eventually enjoy in our cup of coffee. We are like the coffee beans. Jesus hand picks us as His special beloved. He helps us get through the layers of our lives that need to be peeled away in order to get to the "human bean" He created us to be. He puts us through a refining fire to bring out the qualities He so desires in us, ones that spread a pleasing aroma to the world around us.
A very rewarding excursion was our trip to Haleakala. As we returned to the 10,023 feet peak we had visited in the past, the weather cooperated to give us a scenic view of the terrain and ocean below us. We could see distant islands with great clarity. We were above the clouds, and we were even above an airplane that was taking a group of excited passengers to one of the other Hawaiian islands. On this mountain, also known as "house of the sun," we observed the beautiful and subtle hues of the volcanic cones. We saw the rare Silversword plants that are designed specifically for the climate and aeolian desert surroundings of this massive shield volcano. Reflecting on the details and specific intricacies of God's creation was awe-inspiring.
Another place we try to always go when we are on the island of Maui is the Ka'anapali Beach Ministry Church. We discovered this Sunday morning worship service several years ago. They meet at a restaurant that overlooks the ocean along a paved and very well traveled walking path. As we sing, pray, or listen to the sermon, people become curious to see what's going on. Some just walk on by. Others immediately recognize a song and begin to sing with us as they stop momentarily to worship, often raising their hands in praise. Still others cock their heads in a bit of confusion. They look at the menu that is posted for the restaurant (which opens later in the day), as if that will give an explanation of what is going on.
The service always ends with a hula interpretation of the great hymn, "How Great Thou Art." I am always moved to tears as this song is sung in Hawaiian and English, and the hand gestures accurately and emotionally symbolize the meaning behind the lyrics. This part of the service always attracts the most looky loos. People are always intrigued by the islands' culture, and they get to see a free hula demonstration. For many, the song is a familiar one, and they just enjoy hearing the beautiful rendition that is playing over the speakers. It is always a highlight of our trip!
On our first Sunday back to the mainland, we were attending our home church. Lo and behold, one of the worship set songs was "How Great Thou Art." I was immediately transported back to Hawaii, as I envisioned this song being sung and interpreted in the beautiful outdoors. It dawned on me, as I was thinking about those who would stop to listen in, that we have a responsibility as Christians, believers in Jesus. We should live our lives in such a way that people walking through life with us--our co-workers, neighbors, loved ones--would want to stop and "read the menu." They should want what we have, and we should be ready to share the Bread of Life with them.
I hope and pray that God will continue doing His work in me, so that my "menu" will reflect His glorious cuisine. May the appetizers be joy, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and compassion. May the entree be the meat of His Word, with a side of The Bread that was broken for us (through the body of Christ) and Living Water that springs up from the Well of Life. For dessert, may the offerings be thanksgiving and the sweetness of God's presence. With the fruit of the Spirit shining through our character and countenance, I believe those passing by in life will want to stop and "read the menu."