Wednesday, June 01, 2016

God's 24 Hour Coffee House

     I hadn’t realized that God owned a coffee house on the corner of Wind’s Song and Life’s Way.    
     I’d been trudging along, head down against a strong, cold wind, hoping to make better time along Life’s Way when twinkling lights ahead caught my attention.  I hurried my pace and soon found myself at the door.  As I stepped on the welcome mat the door opened automatically, and I saw inside the cozy shop.  Small round tables and several comfy couches lined the room.  Customers chatted in congenial tones.  
     A blue-aproned barista behind the counter welcomed me with a nod and a grin, then he turned to finish serving a man.  I scanned the long menu, amazed at the variety.  There were coffee drinks hot or cold, tea of all flavors, sodas, and bottled water.  A small case displayed a dozen kinds of muffins and bagels. 
     “So this is God’s Coffee House?” I began. “And you are— let me guess— Jesus?”
     “Oh, no,” the barista smiled, “Just call me Mario.”
     “Boss isn’t in today?” I persisted. 
     “Can I fix you something while we satisfy your curiosity?”
     “I’ll try a blended Roma.  I was in Rome once, and it did pique my curiosity.”
     I looked around while the machinery whirred.  Three walls of deep maroon contrasted with one wall of old gold.  Lace window swags were maroon.  The floor covering looked to be a polished warm brown.  Even though I clearly recall the room it’s difficult to describe. The atmosphere exuded comfort. 
     Finally I was aware of Mario speaking, “Here you are.”  
     In a tall goblet my drink was crowned with whipped cream, and my name was spelled out in cursive with caramel syrup on top. Impressive. 
     “And what do I owe?”
     “Nothing today.”
     Mario took in my stare with an easy-going attitude.  He was tall, dark-haired with one of those now-popular short beards.  Clad in knee length jeans, he wore a faded blue “OshKosh” T-shirt.   There at the counter we conversed casually, as if I were his only concern at that time.  
     “I’ll have to say,” I remember telling him, “this is a most unusual place.  Not like the World’s Mall I passed earlier on the highway.  From the marquee I could tell that it caters to the pleasure-seekers who seek only amusement and diversion.”
     “And, my friend, I can sense that you are purpose-driven, not like the careless crowd.”
     “Ah, but I have to admit I complained as I struggled through the downpour this morning.  Questions started pounding in my head, and only my sheer determination kept me going.”
     “So, let me be the one to assure you.  Determination, while admirable, has its limitations.  God didn’t expect you to invent either Life’s Destination or Life’s Success.”

     He waited to let this wisdom sink into my mind.  After a few moments my reply was, “Let me ask you this, since you bring up His name.  Why is the road so long and hard?  Why do some people speed by on Life’s Way in contrivances of wealth and accolades? Others I’ve seen are loaded down like ox carts; they suffer terribly. So much is unfair.  Obviously God knows all about this; and we don’t. What is the point of it?” 
     “You have the eager mind of a philosopher.”  He paused.  “God has given to each man and woman some various kinds of difficulty. He wants each person to tire of a lonesome and unsatisfying life so they will call out to Him.  He wants each one to enter into a relationship with Him.  It’s a friendship like none other.”
      “Did your education come from the university or seminary?” I had to know. 
     He reached beneath the counter and held up a Bible.  “Here is my Guidebook.  Let me give you a copy.”
     “Oh,” I pulled back, “I’ve seen frowning people carrying that Book.  I’ve even seen people hitting each other with it.” 
     “May I suggest you read the life of Jesus first.  When you get acquainted with Him in an honest and humble way He will open His Word to you.  No need to argue and fight with others.  Some of them merely are immature in their walk with Him.  Others have taken words from here and there to construct a form of religion.”
     “I’ve no inclination to argue or adopt any kind of theology,”  I stated. “But would like to know that I’m doing things the right way, now before I go any farther down Life’s Way.”
     “The message is profound simplicity:  God is love, and humankind is lost in sin.  God Himself provided the sacrifice for sin. Why do more not yet believe?  Pride, confusion, inattention to the great matters of life.  But God is merciful.  He may whisper in the night to your heart, or bring someone near who can share His Good News about Jesus. He, Himself, will walk with you the rest of Life’s Way. You can talk to Him, and you can listen to Him.”
     “So, to begin this walk with Him . . ?”
     “Ask.  Speak to Him in your own words. Admit that you need Him for forgiveness and wisdom, help and guidance. If God allowed any other way to His Heaven then He would not have sent Jesus to die on the cross.”
      “I sense your sincerity, and I do not doubt that you care.” 
     “May I suggest you stay the night in our shelter. No need to fend for yourself outside when friends of mine have provided the meal and the room.”
     “You are, of course, a believer,” I commented, waiting for my heart to catch up with my racing mind.  
     “Only recently did I find the answers.  Before I was in pursuit of success of a different flavor.  Now, this coffee shop is my mission, until the Lord calls me to the next place of obedience.”
     “Well, friend Mario, you have given me food for thought. Thank you for caring.”
     We shook hands, as his eyes looked into mine, “I leave you with two words to remember: trust and obey.”                               +++

by Elaine Hardt ©2005