Owning a cafe was one of the most stressful years in our lives. It was such a roller-coaster ride with stresses from all fronts including finances, staffing issues, supplies and then finally Covid-19. But it was also during these years that Jesus drew us in, giving us testimonies like these that I would not trade for the world.
At this point in our lives, I had the cafe for about 2 years, it was managed by a very reliable Cafe Manager and I was also working full time in an office job. I was on holidays in Queensland and it was also on this trip that I saw on the news, for the first time, about a mysterious virus that was just starting to emerge from Wuhan, China.
On the morning of Wednesday 22nd January 2020, while we were on a day trip to one of the national parks, I received a call from my Cafe Manager. While I already knew that one of the staff at the cafe was going to take a few weeks of leave for her wedding in July and I was going to take about 4 weeks leave for my 40th Birthday holiday in about August/September, my Cafe Manager called to tell me that he was also going to take some leave too, right in between our leave. He was going to go to Bali and not only that, he has already bought his tickets. So between the 3 of us, there were about 8 weeks of leave from the end of July to early September. Whenever staff at the cafe take time off, I am the backup cover so this puts me in a really tough situation. I knew that my Manager from my office job was not going to approve 2 months’ worth of leave and when it comes down to the crunch of it, I would have to resign from work because at the end of the day, the cafe takes priority.
I’m not someone who generally stresses a lot but as I got off the phone with my Cafe Manager, I was feeling stressed, annoyed, and frustrated and there was a sense of dread in me. I liked my office job and I didn’t want to have to give that up. I also didn’t want to wake up at 4 am, 5 days a week for 2 months. I understand I bought a cafe and this is all part and parcel, however, I’ve had my Cafe Manager not long after purchasing the Cafe so by this stage, I had stepped away from managing the cafe for quite some time. To have to go back and run it again would be super exhausting and not to mention, the extra strain it puts on my husband to carry a heavier load managing the kids. My Cafe Manager has always been really good to us and very reliable too so he deserved a holiday as well, I would’ve just preferred if it wasn’t sprung on me while on holidays.
Anyway, as the day progressed, my stress levels continued to climb. I don’t usually express my stresses openly and outwardly so our friends and family on the trip with us weren’t even aware of what just took place. But inside, it was starting to snowball, and by evening come, I was no longer just stressed out, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. It was gut-wrenching, it was heavy, it was draining and it was taking a hold of me. As I lay in bed completely spent with nothing left in the tank, I just kept calling out to Jesus, praying for Him to take my burdens away from me, submitting my anxiety over to Him, over and over again. I even quoted His words back to Him saying “you said that if I searched for you with all of my heart, I would find you. Well I need you right now more than ever. I need you, Jesus,” and that’s when I felt Him say “Just enjoy your holiday and we will handle this when you get back.” I also felt Him press onto my heart that “All is well” and immediately, I felt these heavy burdens lift off my chest. It really felt like a heavy cloud rising out of my body and I drifted off to sleep with peace in my heart.
I woke up the next morning feeling good and the anxiety was gone. I said to my husband, as we got ready for the day “I had a strange dream last night. I dreamt that Jesus said to me “No one is anywhere, the joke is on them. They think they are going somewhere, but no one is going anywhere.” There were no visuals in this dream, just Jesus telling me this.” My husband responded, “Well, I don’t think it’s a joke and I’m sure he (Cafe Manager) would have already booked his flights to Bali.” So I kinda shrugged it off and amazingly, I did enjoy the rest of my holiday. It doesn’t mean I didn’t think about what lay ahead in the months to come, of course, I thought about it. But I didn’t worry about it anymore and the anxiety didn’t have a hold on me like it did yesterday. There was no heavy cloud over me. I realised that this is what it means to “lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus” and that He will “give you rest” Matthew (11: 28).
So anyway, after our 1 week holiday was over, I went to the cafe to work just for a day at the end of January. Deep down inside of me, I was hoping the dream held some truth and that the staff were just playing a joke on me and that there was no holiday booked to Bali. But when I went to check our leave board, all the leave was locked in and my heart sank, residing to the fact that I will be working here for 2 months from the end of July and more than likely, quitting my office job.
But as you may have guessed, that never happened at all. When Jesus makes a promise, He truly does deliver. All the fears and anxiety I felt on that trip were futile because a few days after having that dream from Jesus, Australia confirmed its first positive case of Covid-19 in Victoria. Then on 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic. And not long after that, Australia and the rest of the world shut their borders and we all go into lockdown! Jesus said in the dream “NO-ONE is going anywhere….they think they are going somewhere, but NO-ONE is going anywhere.” And here I thought Jesus was just talking about my little situation but what He was alluding to was so much bigger, on a worldwide scale, and just so beyond my imagination. By early April 2020, we joined many businesses and hibernated the cafe. All our leave was cancelled and noone went anyway.
The rest of 2020 turned out to be one of the most carefree years for us. Although covid continued to ravage the world, isolation and social distancing meant we were forced to slow down. We spent more time outdoors, going back to basics. Life was less chaotic and I even cleaned the dust off my old art supplies and found my passion again. With the cafe still hibernated, and as restrictions eased, we took the opportunity to enjoy several staycations around NSW.
Life was actually so good for us and God is good. While we can only see to the horizon line, Jesus is above our situation and already knows what is coming beyond the horizon. He has already marked our steps ahead of us. Rather than worrying about what is to come, that may never come, we need to put our trust in the one who knows it all. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He doesn’t promise a world free of trouble, but what He does promise in Matthew 11:30 is that “my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Having faith in Jesus means that we can bring our burdens to Him and lean on Him during our troubled times. In John 14:27 Jesus said “I give you peace, the kind of peace only I can give. It isn’t like the peace this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.” He has given us this gift, accept it with open arms and experience the peace of Jesus for yourself.