Don’t you just love coffee? Yeah, me neither. But I drink it. I drink it because there was one time, it might have happened more than once, but there was one time when I was tired and cold, I may have been camping, and there was a pot of coffee and I poured a cup and without sugar or cream or anything it just tasted so perfect, just like it smells. So I thought, hey, this stuff is pretty good! But most of the coffee I’ve ever had has been bitter and acidy, and I can’t drink it without sugar or cream or both just to make it palatable. I tried Kool-Aid once without the sugar; big mistake. It tasted awful, and since Kool-Aid is a cold drink, there was no aroma to mitigate the bitterness. So sugar is needed to rein in the bitterness of two of the most popular drinks in America and it is most likely the sugar that makes them popular.
Coffee is so popular and has been so specialized that you can pay more than $7 for a cup of coffee at the big urban coffee shops. Or you can buy a cup of coffee at a restaurant in Stafford, Kansas for 50 cents. And the variety, the little nuances of flavor that go with coffee! Mocha-choca-latte Grande, and that’s just the expensive stuff. Coffee doesn’t even grow in our country. And after petroleum oil, it is the most consumed product on the planet. It’s even bigger than tea.
So a lot of people make a lot of money and take a lot of effort to consume this bitter, acidic, highly caffeinated, not-really-healthy-for- you, beverage. And most people don’t really like it, they just remember the one or two or five times when they had some on the perfect day with the perfect blend and the perfect strength and it was wonderful.
How about God? Don’t you just love God? You do? Many people experience God in the same way they do coffee. They had that wonderful experience that one time and they hope that the next cup full will be like that one. And it never really is. So they put lots of stuff in hoping to make it all taste good, and they are disappointed because they don’t really know God at all.
Experiencing God is not at all like a cup of coffee, although there are moments in our lives when we experience a heightened awareness of God. But living lives filled with the Holy Spirit is not all mountain-top experiences, we live most of our lives in the valleys and plains and on the sea-shore, so our experience of God has to be an everyday experience; an experience that comes to us when we come to God in prayer.
Jesus tells us to pray without ceasing, to pray all the time, and how can we do that when we are busy doing the daily business of living our lives. Living is messy, there’s lots of cleaning up to do when you’re living. There are conversations going on, there’s TV to watch and there’s coffee to drink. How can we spend all our time praying?
Praying without ceasing is an orientation to God that is pervasive and life changing. You come to understand that all of your life is centered on God. And that instead of hoping for that one experience of the Holy, maybe on Sunday morning, or maybe only on that one Sunday morning in Spring, or maybe on an actual mountain top, you begin to see that all of life is Holy. You begin to see that God is not just a part of your life, like a few moments nestling a cup in your hands and enjoying the aroma before getting on with the real business of the day but that God is all of your life. You can take a coffee-break when you need a little rest from your daily routine, but if your orientation to God is that you take a God-break every so often to recharge your religion meter, well, you’re missing out on what God is all about.
Our relationship with God is more important than petroleum oil, or coffee or tea, it’s the one thing that we can do all day, everyday, even when life is messy and noisy and busy. God isn’t waiting for us at the end of the day like a comfortable chair and an entertaining show on television. God is with us throughout the day talking to us, reminding us to be kind and merciful in our dealings with others; sharing our pain and our joy at each turning of our lives. Pray, listen, talk, God is with you, and you are with God all day long. And when you take time to have a cup of coffee, God is there too, and the peace that you feel isn’t about aroma or flavor, it’s the peace of God. Shalom.
Guest-blogger Reverend Paul Porter is Pastor of First Christian Church in Stafford, Kansas. His EMC blogging debut has been long-awaited, and we’re overjoyed it’s here!