Two months later we received a prophecy from someone we’d never met, that we were thinking about opening a coffee shop and that we should do it. We prayed about it lot, we were excited, envisioned and still a little bit scared, but we knew we had to pursue this idea and we had to do this with the support of our church.
We plied the church council with cinnamon buns, we described snapshots of what we longed to create, we listened, we prayed and held consultations with the congregation. It wasn’t easy, but the questions asked of us were good ones, with the congregation seeking to understand the risk as well as the mission. Eventually, the vote was a unanimous ‘yes’, with those who doubted declaring how, in their decision to hire my husband as a pioneer, the church had already agreed to this vision before it was even known.
On the day of the church council vote we received a donation of £10,000 and in just three months the minimum £80,000 was raised and our lease proposal was accepted. Prayers had been answered, faith was built up and the story of stepping out and trusting God was now shared by the whole church who rejoiced in God’s quick provision, a confirmation of his blessing on this project and a planned opening of the café in February 2016.
But then the waiting began. Months passed by and nothing happened. Despite our best efforts, no progress was made on the lease. We tried to work on what we could, we prayed, learned from similar projects, developed our branding and menu, but there was little to show for the hours we’d worked. Ashamed by our lack of progress, I stopped writing the prayer emails, believing the only news worth sharing was that of progress.
Waiting is tiring, it drains the energy from your vision. Waiting, we found, can feed doubt, mistrust and sometimes even anger. Letters, emails, conversations and angry demands at church meetings voiced the doubts caused by the delay. There were doubts in the vision, doubts in God’s involvement and doubts in us and our abilities. It seems there’s something about waiting that feeds disbelief. Regardless of the many years it took for Noah to build his ark or the Israelites to enter the Promised Land or Jesus to even begin his ministry on earth, we so often still live out our lives of faith believing God’s blessing is only found in efficiency and the ability to meet a deadline.
Looking back over those difficult months I can now testify to God’s activity in the waiting, from the life-giving words of comfort offered by those who still encouraged us, to a leak in the roof of the shop fixed by the landlord because the contract was yet to be signed. But if I’m honest, even with these moments, there were still times when the waiting was just really, really tough.
We live in a world where a good life is marketed as an effortless one, where efficiency is celebrated and waiting is seen as an interruption to a life of purpose. Every biblical hero I can recall went through extended periods of waiting before God revealed his promises to them and yet somehow, as God followers, we are still so easily seduced by this instant society. Our world may not value waiting, our church may not value it either, but God does. “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25, ESV).
Lizzie Lowrie is a local mission leader in Liverpool and runs a coffee shop and micro bakery. storyhouse.community @storyhousecommunity