Saturday, November 23, 2013

Is Jesus glorified when we only seem to be making burritos?

Sometimes, Oaks Cafe is nearly empty. We'll have five adult volunteers hanging out with two kids. But those times are getting more and more rare.

Yesterday afternoon, we had the opposite scenario. A couple of adult volunteers and 45 people (mostly kids) coming through our little building in a 2 1/2 hour period.

It was pandemonium. Little kids racing around and playing with toys. Teens congregated on the window sills, playfully trash talking and flirting and occasionally picking a real fight. A cluster of kids around a table with coloring books. And a roving army of kids of all ages, following us around and firing off questions: Why isn't my burrito done yet? Where's my brownie? Why won't you move jobs back to Friday instead of Wednesday? Why isn't there a hip hop concert tonight? Why haven't you put out more apples yet? Can I play the guitar?

And so on.

On days like this, I feel like a mish-mash of a cop, a day care worker and a short order cook. One moment I'm in the back, mixing more burrito filling together. The next, I'm getting someone a glass of water or saying, "Please watch your language" or wedging myself onto the window sill in between the teens to keep a small riot from breaking out. Some of the time, in my better moments, I'm quietly praying under my breath.

And I'll admit, I find myself asking: Why am I doing this again? Is Jesus visible in the middle of this madness? Where is the gospel being seen or heard in this place?

Yesterday, a teen who isn't in much answered this question for me. She shook her head and said, "How on earth do you do this? I couldn't. These kids are rude. They never say please or thank you."

And I said, with all my heart, "Only by the grace of God."

She said, "I guess. You gotta know Jesus to be able to do this."

And there it was. Jesus getting the glory, in the middle of the crazy. Doesn't that make an entire day worth it? And weren't there other moments -- little stolen moments when I managed to pat a kid on the shoulder, call them by name, ask how their day was?

And then there was the 5-minute prayer service at the end of the day, when 8 of us stayed behind to sing and hear a Bible story on Jesus searching for the 1 sheep in 99.

"He would look for the 1," one of the kids said with confidence. "He counts all of them to make sure he doesn't lose any, and he looks for any that get lost."

That he does.

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