Beauty for Ashes

Hawaiian fire hydrants are different.  The birds are too.

On the island of Oahu, there is a place called Hanauma Bay.  The sea, long ago, wore away one slice of a volcanic crater, birthing a tranquil bay of bright blue water, scattered coral, and sandy beaches igneously pockmarked.  Here, hundreds - thousands - of fish swim, in every shape and size and color combination imaginable.

It's entirely unnecessary.

Everything could be concrete.  Everyone's eyes could be a dull lifeless color.  Birds could, instead of singing, simply make grumpy sounds and complain about the city's fire services.

I spent the first part of May in Hawaii with my friends Jim and Jess, who have been on staff with YWAM Honolulu the past several years and are soon transitioning to a new context where they'll continue to follow Jesus and equip people to know - to deeply know - the story of scripture.

The last months, for various reasons, had worn me down.  There was little point in getting excited for anything, it seemed, as a variety of hopes had been dashed several times in quick succession.  Indeed, as I packed my gear, I noticed that I was hardly excited to go to Hawaii.  For this statement, there are hundreds of people who would gladly punch me in the face while incredulously asking, "what the crap is wrong with you?"

So I spent a week with Jim, joined by Jess as she was able.  We traveled the island, went camping, visited coffee shops, wandered a half-dozen beaches, and talked about all sorts of things.  I took a five mile hike through the jungle, tried local delicacies (I, quite understandably to most readers, discovered that I like Mochi better than Spam), yelled in the car just for the sake of doing so, visited Pearl Harbor, met wonderful people, and went snorkeling with all those fish in Hanauma Bay.  

Perhaps more detailed anecdotes will come in later posts, but a notable takeaway point is this: in resting, in talking through recent hurts with Jim, in meeting amazing new people, in reading Scripture, in spending time listening, my heart began to find restoration.  I began to simply enjoy the day without anxiety, began to see what structural changes I need to make at home so that I may not fall into a listless frustration that has often characterized my outlook as of late.

Has not God made a wondrously beautiful world?  What has happened to our hearts when we lose sight of that?  There's hundreds of thousands of neon rainbow fish flitting through the reefs of Hawaii that wish to remind you: 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
— Jesus, in Luke 4:18-19

Jesus' promise is for all people, in all its fullness - whether rescuing an addict, a slave, a mobster, or simply one whose heart has been hardened by pain.

God will make beautiful things out of dust - a tranquil bay out of volcanic ash, or perhaps a triumphant son our daughter out of a broken soul.