Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ke Akua Mana E

My parents told us we'd be spending our second straight Thanksgiving on Maui back on my birthday. They thought we'd be surprised. Little did they know, Sissy and I had been banking on a second Turkey Day trip since we took our first, but still, it was nice to finally be able to talk about the trip in definite terms as opposed to the hypothetical "IF we ever go back to Maui...," always said with pleading eyes in shamefully begging tones.

Immediately after the big announcement, Daddy asked the family, "What are you most looking forward to?" Bess said, "Leilani's," a restaurant beside our hotel. Sissy, probably trying to get on Daddy's sweet side, mentioned those confounded pancakes. I, on the other hand, immediately remembered the two services presented by the Kaanapali Beach Ministry.

We'd ended up there - the first week, anyway - by convenience. Services are held at an oceanfront restaurant that's a stone's throw from our hotel, so it was simple enough to roll out of bed (after all, the sign says, "come as you are"), eat some you-know-whats, and take the super short stroll to Leilani's (the source of Lizzie Gray's Hawaiian obsession. We're eating dinner there tonite, in fact - at her insistence. I mean, "suggestion").

I was really excited to give it a visit, as, for several years now, I have absolutely loved visiting different types of Christian churches. God's been showing me for a while that my commitment to my own"performance" of spirituality puts Him in a box. Unintentionally, I found myself beginning to think of my particular brand of faith practice as the only right one.

God gave me another of several "aha" moments in this lesson last year at the Beach Ministry. Several women in the church danced a hula to "He Touched Me." The song, of course, I knew and loved from my childhood church choir's Southern Gospel arrangement of it (thank you, Bill Gaither!). The dance, however, was entirely new to me. The lesson God whispered was that worship of Him is not limited to my life experience. My cultural tradition is not the only one that acknowledges His Lordship. It was a great lesson to learn and one that has only broadened and deepened my understanding of Him in the intervening year.

That's why I was so excited to revisit the church. To my great excitement, this year's service featured not one but three hulas. One of the three was danced to "How Great Thou Art." The sermon was incredible and just what I needed to hear ("When You're Running Out of Everything / When You're Hoping for a Miracle" - I Kings 17:1-16). It was that hula, though, that was my major takeaway from the service.

Afterwards, I joined Daddy and his golf foursome. That's one of the beautiful things about a ten day vacation. You feel like there's time to do things you typically wouldn't, if you were trying to, say, squeeze a year's worth of beach time into a long weekend. That to say, golf is not my "fore"-te (har!). Given that the Pacific probably isn't going anywhere, though, a day with my daddy definitely is.

So off we went to the Plantation Course at Kapalua. My Hawaiian's sorta shaky, but after riding the course for 18 holes, I'm assuming "Kapalua" means something like "most beautiful place on Earth." It's either that or "source of my father's great happiness."

While my earthly father basked in the relaxation of the lovely links, I basked in the handiwork of my Heavenly Father. It is impossible to see Kapalua's sweeping vistas and not remember the soundtrack to this morning's hula:

"Oh, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee.
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
When sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee.
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Actually, it's another tune that's been rolling through my mind today. If you ever attended Sunday school or VBS or listened to one of those low-rent Christian radio stations where every song sounds like it was ripped from a Lawrence Welk album (and by "album," I mean "vinyl"), then you probably know it, too.

"Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above,
deep, deep as the deepest sea is my Savior's love.
I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care,
for His Word teaches me that His love reaches me anywhere

Though I don't think that I've thought of it a single time in the 365 days, since we were here last, I remember that this song was on my mind here last year, too. I was looking at the expanse of that same vast ocean and thinking about Psalm 103:

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us

God gave me these thoughts as we took the dangerous, windy drive to Hana. At certain points along the way, the only view was the ocean as wide as the eye could see. I wanted so much to capture that vastness - I wanted a picture to look it whenever I needed to be reminded of how deep the Father's love for me, of how far He has removed my sins. I left frustrated, though. Even with my so-called "fancy camera," I still couldn't capture it. This year, using my point and shoot, I was no more successful. I was, however, just as frustrated ...

... until God whispered another lesson. As I was bending and shifting and contorting to give my camera what I hoped would FINALLY be the right angle, I thought, "I just can't get it!" and God said, "Yeah, Stultzie. You can't, and you know what? That's the point. No matter how fancy the camera, you can't capture something that can't be measured."

All I can do is gratefully respond,"my God, how great Thou art!"


  1. You and your sister are NOT the reason we had an encore visit to Maui. It was the pleading eyes of four of the most special grandkids on earth that did the trick...besides, Mom and I reserved our rooms for the return visit before we checked out of the Maui Westin Resort and Spa last year. I did enjoy having you with me on the golf course today, especially since you got to witness my birdie on the 18th hole!

  2. W., R. W.

    Thanks, by the way, for always reading my blog - and for being the only other person on the planet who's ever read my dissertation!

  3. You made your dad read your dissertation?? Not nice Stultzie. Not nice.

    And I'm sorry but I almost always read your blog...when you tell me to. Don't I get some credit?

  4. Oh, I didn't make him. In fact, I begged him not to. But he insisted, and I appreciated his interest.

    As for giving you credit, okay. You can have all the credit you want - but what difference does it make. I'm pretty sure you and T-Dogg are my only readers, so is it really credit if no one but him and me knows you got it?!


    If a tree falls in the woods ...