“The business was going very well”, she said. “Staff from the company next door and across the street and the kids from the center, they all crowded in and we took their orders and the café was real busy all those months”.
She continued talking as she put a dish of steaming hot lagman in front of us. The aroma of thick noodles covered with sauce from the stir-fried beef and veggies was more than inviting. “Welcome home”, I whispered to my husband as we broke the lepeshka bread into pieces. Their 8-year-old son had a twinkle in his eye as he excitedly informed us, “There’s even chocolate cake for dessert!”.
I smiled as we listened on. It felt so comfortable, so good to be back with our Kyrgyz friends in the southern region of the republic. She continued talking about the things they experienced when they opened their café. “Of course, we were hardly ever home. We would leave early in the morning, and two of the kids would go with us and our third one joined us after school. We ate all our meals there, and would come home late and tired. But it was going really well. We even stopped counting our change.”
And she went on explaining more, but she’d already lost me. I stopped in my thoughts, pondering over her last statement. Change? Stopped counting their change?? Did they really collect it all and count it, every last penny?
When was the last time I even noticed ours?
And I looked around me as if seeing everything for the first time. I noticed the handmade drapes from wallpaper that she’d carefully hung in the window to hide the sun. I watched the kids as they toppled over each other, tickling and giggling and playing; and I listened as they squealed in excitement over the new pens we brought them, fighting over who would open them first. I looked at the dresses that the mom and little girl wore, and listened as the husband told us that she sews all of her clothes on a 60-year old sewing machine that she had to keep turning with her hands because they didn’t have an automatic one. I listened to the husband’s prayer as he thanked the Lord for His grace and for blessing their home with our arrival. I noted the bible verses that hung on the wall and the deep satisfaction in the eyes of them all.
I took it in and I was stunned. Not a word of complaint, not a hint of disappointment of not having or even wanting more…
“So why did you give up the business, why did you stop running the café?”, I asked.
“Summer outreach programs and children’s camps are starting, and there’s construction to do in church and lots of other things coming up. When we ran the café, we couldn’t do ministry whole-heartedly like we used to”, she answered. “Besides, we have peace and true joy in our hearts now, even though we don’t know what’s ahead. I’ll probably bake from home and we will sell the goods in stores, at our own pace and schedule. But we know He will be faithful, as He always has been.”
And we looked at them again, this family of five. This family that put Him first; put the needs of the Kingdom above their own desires. This family that treasured inner peace above outward prosperity, treasured eternal deposits above earthly possessions and treasured faith above finances.
This family that held a Kingdom perspective and lived out Kingdom principles as they passed their days by on Earth – and their life painted out Jesus’ words,
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these thing will be added to you…” Matt. 6:33
A living application of His teaching, they live by the principle Kingdom-first;
So that Kingdom-first would become Kingdom-forever.
We went home that night, to the apartment we are staying at for two months, and before bed I got on my knees and prayed for forgiveness. I needed to confess that, sometimes, I speak things that I don’t live out. I worry and fret and think about things that, ultimately, don’t matter. I cloud my mind with earthly desires and leave little room for thoughts of the Kingdom. I forget about the One who left everything to bring the Kingdom for a short time here.
Left everything – so that, one day, we could live with Him in His kingdom forever.