Now that fall has arrived, I am truly enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. I occasionally get one during the summer months, but generally stay away from hot beverages because–well, because I’m hot. Having lived in Florida for 25 years, I am tired of hot. It gets hot here in upstate South Carolina, too, but not as hot as Florida. Hot is a lifestyle there, and one I don’t really long for. I like cool weather; even cold weather is fine with me, as long as a warm jacket and a cup of coffee are available. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, to be precise. I don’t care for Starbucks as much–too strong, too pricey, and too pretentious. I don’t want a “grande”, I want a “large”. I am proud to say that on the rare occasion I hit ‘bucks, I ask for “mediums” and “larges”, not whatever fru-fru titles they use.
While I enjoy a good cuppa, I am not that dependant upon it. There are quite a few people I know, however, who simply cannot function without at least 16 oz. of the brew each morning. It reminds me of an old 7-11 commercial from when I was much younger of a monster who is snarling at people in traffic, pulls in to 7-11, snarls at the clerk, drinks a cup of coffee, and transforms into a smiling human.
So what brings out the best, not the beast, in you? Coffee–or anything else for that matter–is merely a circumstance in our lives, something that is temporary and transient that affects our mood for a while before it returns us to the state we were previously in. There are a lot of things that we use to get us through the day that accomplish basically the same thing, but most of them aren’t good for us–in fact, most of them are addicting to some degree or another. The alternative is something that doesn’t go away, something that doesn’t mess you up.
Back in the 80’s, Huey Lewis and the News had a huge hit with the song “I Want A New Drug”. An example of the lyrics:
“I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick,
One that won’t make me crash my car, or make me feel three feet thick.
I want a new drug, one that won’t go away,
One that won’t keep me up all night, one that won’t make me sleep all day.”
The whole point of the song is not advocating drug use–he’s wanting to feel all the time like he does when he’s with his lady friend–but it gets the point across that people look for something to make them feel “better” than they might otherwise. The problem, as Lewis points out , is that most things that lift us up have a matching drop. Red Bull? Mountain Dew? Coffee? Cigarettes? Booze? Drugs in general? However high they get you, the crash is just the opposite. Remember Jolt Cola? I do. I drank one because some of my buddies told me how awesome it was. When I recovered from the caffeine and sugar crash three days later, I smacked my friends around and swore to never imbibe another “energy drink”. The boost wasn’t worth the crash.
Huey Lewis said he wanted a high that wouldn’t go away. I’m not sure of his spiritual condition, but I do know of a boost that will get you through the day no matter the circumstances. When the apostle Paul was struggling with some unknown difficulty (he described it as a “thorn in the flesh”), he prayed and asked God to take it away–three times, in fact. Paul was in need of something to get him through the day. God’s response? “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in [your] weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). In other words, God told Paul “You don’t need something from Me, you just need Me.” Grace is God’s unmerited favor, the strength He gives to us through the Holy Spirit. What did Paul think of God’s solution to his dilemma of how to rise above his circumstances? ” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b).
Think you’re having a rough day? Paul spent most of his Christian life being persecuted, chased, jailed, and beaten. That doesn’t happen to most of us. If God’s grace was good enough to get Paul through the day, it’s definitely good enough for us.