A Cup of Coffee and a Cup of Grace

I enjoy starting off my day with a hot, bold cup of coffee.  It helps wake me up to the world around me and helps me be a little less grumpy throughout the day.  I said less, it does not always mean I won’t have a few grumpy edges.  Also, I love my Keurig single cup coffee maker that I got last year for Christmas.  By inserting a K-cup, which holds just enough coffee grounds for one cup of coffee, into the machine I receive a fresh serving of coffee each time.  No more pots of coffee languishing around growing stale and bitter at the Peeler household anymore.

Last Sunday morning, mom called while I was brewing my cup of coffee.  I noticed when I sat down at my desk that I could see through to the bottom of my black coffee cup.  I thought that was quite odd – usually black coffee in a black cup is not all that transparent.  I started investigating and realized that because of the distraction of talking on the phone I had not inserted a K-cup into the machine.  Now, all I had was a cup of hot sugar water.  Not exactly what I was hoping for and definitely not what I needed to wake me and prepare me for the day ahead.

Along with my cup of caffeine, I also try to start my mornings with a Bible reading and devotion.  I am ashamed to say I am not always as eager to approach this activity.  It’s not so much that I don’t want to do it, it is usually that so many other things are vying for my attention that I am often tempted to put the devotion on hold until later when I have a free moment.  But I have learned that if I don’t start my day with prayer and reflection that free moment never materializes.  There is always something else to do and that quiet time just keeps getting pushed down further on my daily agenda until the day finally runs out.

I have also learned that I pay a price when I allow that to happen.  Those days I am just like that hot cup of water – weak and  lacking in taste and boldness.  By taking a few moments at the start of the day to allow God to speak to me I am allowing him to insert his version of a K-cup into my heart and soul.  He gives me the grace and love I need for that day.  Not just for my needs but for those that I will encounter that day.  I cannot claim that even those days when I am faithful in my devotion time that I always make the right decisions, say the right things, or even share God’s love with those around me like I should.  But I am certainly more apt to do so.  I find it a little easier to be gracious to others because I started the day being reminded that there is one who loves me and who offers me grace for my shortcomings.

Whether or not you are a coffee drinker I suggest starting your day with prayer and reflection.  Drink fully and freely from the Cup of Grace that is offered to you.  Remember, the price has already been paid and there are free refills all day and everyday.

Smoothing Out the Rough Edges

The Old Testament portion of today’s Lectionary Reading includes selected verses from 1 Samuel 17 which recounts the story of David and Goliath. To read the passage in its entirety please click here. There exists a multitude of Sunday School lessons, Bible Study lessons, and Vacation Bible School lessons that focus on this particular story. I know this because I have participated in many of these myself and have encountered this epic battle numerous times. Most of these studies highlight the theme of the Weak overcoming the Strong because they have God on their side.  This is a great lesson to take away from this passage; however, today I want to direct the focus somewhere else in this story.

As David prepares for battle, King Saul adorns him with his own armor including a helmet, a coat of mail, and his sword.  The trouble was, David was not use to such trappings and could not walk with all those things bearing down on him.  So he stripped himself of the heavy armor and instead armed himself with five smooth stones from a nearby stream bed for use in the sling that he carried while he tended his father’s sheep.  David then proceeds to march into battle against the biggest, baddest giant of the Philistine army with a child’s sling and a couple of rocks.  Oh yeah, and complete faith in the Lord to protect him.

As I read this passage yesterday my attention was drawn to the selection of the stones from the stream bed.  David didn’t just pick up five random stones; instead, he carefully chose five particular ones he wanted to take with him.  Picture him as he picks up a stone and perhaps then rolls it between his hands, runs his fingers over the surface, checking for any imperfections that may cripple it in the performance of its duties.  And think of how long it took for that stone to become smooth.  Years and years of sitting in that stream bed as the raging waters during the flood season would rush over it, taking off the rough sharp edges until it became exactly the shape and formation that David needed that day.  One could think that a rock with a sharp edge may have been useful to help inflict damage.  But what David needed was a stone that would fly straight and true so that it would hit its mark.  Any rough edges would have caused wind resistance, thus causing it to stray slightly from its flight pattern.

It was no coincidence that the stone David needed was there at the right time.  Unbeknowst to the stone, God had been preparing it for many years so that He could call it into service at this time for this reason.  And in the same way God prepares each of us the same way.  We aren’t always aware of the shaping and molding that is taking place within us, but rest assured that it is happening.  God is smoothing out our own rough edges and at the right time and the right place he will use us for whatever purpose(s) He has planned.  He needs us to be able to fly straight and true so we too will hit our mark.

So, as you go through this week and whatever joys and troubles it brings, rest in the assurance that God is working in your life even if you don’t see the evidence of it at this time.  If you are troubled and dismayed and feel that you aren’t making a difference, know that God has His own plans in place and works on His own timetable.  We sometimes have to spend time in the river bed with the flood waters rushing over us to help make us who we need to be.