Devotional from our Praise and Coffee Night last night… :)
In preparation for our gathering tonight, I was scouring the internet for a nice little devotional I could share with you all. I didn’t find any. Everything I looked at seemed too cliché… or too simple… or too deep. None of it was going to work. As I grew more and more frustrated, I heard the Lord whisper, “Write it.”
If you know me well, you know that I have always loved to write. I think words are lovely, and writing helps me express my thoughts and my heart, and it has always been an amazing tool to help me process the things God is trying to teach me. I discovered blogging and used to write on my blog at least twice a week. It was a place to share the lessons God was impressing on my heart, to share the cries of my soul, the answers to prayer, and even just to share the moments of my life – the funny ones (have you met my family?), the precious ones… and the heavy ones. So normally, if God prompted me to write something, it was my pleasure to oblige. NORMALLY.
But nothing about my life has been normal lately. The Lord has allowed some really tough challenges for my family, and for my faith. Over the last couple of years, I stopped writing. Wait. That’s not true. My job requires that I write… so I do still write, but it’s more functional, and certainly not personal. There’s a disclaimer on my blog that reads, “More than anything, I want to be authentic. This blog is an attempt to do that… to get real. It won’t always be pretty, but it will always be me.” And it always has been (real, not pretty). So when things just got so raw that I could hardly stand it myself, I became very guarded. I had promised myself that I would never put something out there that wasn’t truly representative of my heart, and so I withdrew and just stopped. I couldn’t put on a happy face and pretend like everything was ok, but at the same time, I felt so beaten up and worn down that I couldn’t bring myself to put it all out there either. This stuff just cut too deeply… and I couldn’t put it out there and be vulnerable.
So when God asked me to write this devotional myself, it wasn’t easy to say yes… BUT, I had just come off a weekend of intense time with the Savior, and He (through a series of powerful messages from the Word and new friends) has truly begun a work of healing in me. So here we are.
Now I love… LOVE, a good cup of coffee. I love the aroma, the warmth of the cup in my hands, and the taste as the richness makes its way into my system. But there’s something else. Even those who don’t drink coffee will not turn down an invitation to go out for coffee. They might drink a smoothie, or tea instead… but the words “let’s have coffee” seem to resonate with every woman I know. It’s like an invitation to linger… to spend time with one another and share our hopes, our dreams, and our fears. It’s as if the rat race of the rest of our lives stops for a little while and we just enjoy the friendship and time together (and hours can go by without us even noticing, right Jo?) J
So I knew that I wanted to use coffee as a basis for this devotional, and the thing that kept coming into mind is the way we get that coffee in our cups. Now this is not all encompassing, and I’m sure there are dozens of other parallels that can be drawn here, but I wanted to break it down into a couple of simple ideas.
First, I want us to take a look at the filter. Have you ever thought about the purpose of a coffee filter (other than keeping the grounds from getting into your cup and making it bitter)? I did a little research and learned something very interesting. Paper coffee filters remove oily components called diterpenes. These organic compounds, present in unfiltered coffee, appear to increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Thankfully, God has given us the filter of His Word. If we’ll let it, it can have a deep cleansing effect on us, catching the impurities (John 17:17). It is used to get us ready to be poured out in a way that honors Him (2 Tim. 3:16-17). How about the things that come out of our mouths? If we can pass our thoughts through the filter of His Word, then the garbage that comes from you and me, and from Satan, can be kept out, allowing truth and grace and mercy to flow (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Without this filter, we run the risk of spiritual sickness, and maybe even spreading those harmful components to others around us. I’m so thankful that God has given me His Word, and I’ve really been challenged this week to immerse myself in it more than I have been.
Secondly, and I think this speaks to me even more, in order to be brewed, coffee beans have to be ground. You can’t just toss the beans into the basket and expect to get a delicious blend… you have to make sure they have been ground to just the right consistency… whether you buy them already ground, or use a grinder yourself.
As I look back on difficult times in my life, I see the Lord as the Master Barista. He created me, and so He knows me better than anyone. He has a vision for the fragrance and taste my life can bring the body of Christ, as well as the world around me… and He knows what it’s going to take to produce that exact blend. I think the challenges that He allows into our lives are His way of grinding us… of getting us to a place of being not just useful, but flavorful.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”
Aromas permeate. They linger. They reflect their source. When we allow the Master Barista to take us through the process of being ground to perfection, it’s not easy and it’s not fun (trust me, here), but it is necessary to become the women that He wants us to be. As we are tossed about in His hands, pressed down, rubbed up against challenging situations (and people), the parts of us that are getting in the way of our being used by Him are getting worn down… until we are in such a state that He can flow through us, extracting the very best to glorify His name and spread the fragrance of Christ to those who need to experience it so much.
My prayer is that you – and I – would come to a place of really appreciating (and USING) the filter of God’s Word, and that we would welcome the grinding… keeping in mind that our Master Barista has a purpose in it, and that He knows exactly what we need in order to become the special blend that He designed us to be.