The smell of brewing coffee seemed to seep under the door to the hotel bedroom, enveloping the room in the ambiance of a European coffee shop, and even though I had had very little sleep, the odors pulled me from the warm covers toward the kitchenette. I didn’t even take time to get my glasses, without which nothing is clear.
The coffee pot was full, sitting on the counter next to the stove. But there–on the back burner–sat a full cup, and even though my husband had gone, his thoughtfulness in making me a cup of coffee, ready to drink, was just too sweet! I hoped it was still piping hot, and, picking it up, took a nice big “swig.” If you’re familiar with Jesus’ return, you’ll know the meaning of a “twinkling of an eye.” It took less than that to realize I had taken a nice gulp of grease (I won’t think about the “juice”) from the cooking hamburger the night before, when they had all had spaghetti & meatballs for supper–before I arrived. The turn from the stove to the sink about four feet behind me took even less time as I gagged, all my reflux actions in perfect working order. It wasn’t pretty.
Adding insult to injury, the grease, besides making me sick as a dog who eats grass, left a taste that HAD to come out of my mouth! So I grabbed a clean cup, looked quickly in the frig for a creamer, poured a good ‘dollop,’ and added the coffee from the hot pot. Aahhh. Taking a big swig of that should fix the taste in my mouth. It did. If you’ve been to Europe you’ll know that for every 5 oz. size cup, there’s enough coffee to grow hair on a bald man’s head. This made European coffee bland by comparison. Later, I learned my married daughter–not a coffee drinker–had made it for me, so pleased she could do something special for mom; in that situation, you read directions. One “scoop” of coffee in the filter per cup, for a 12 cup pot, is great if you have a scoop, but if you’re operating in a hotel suite, really, only tablespoons are available. So, just to be on the safe side, she “rounded” the spoonful, making each tablespoon probably equivalent to 2 scoops of coffee. Twenty four. Even in my sleep-deprived, grease-tasting state, I almost gagged again. Then, part of my brain (fried by the grease) said “dilute it,” while the major part of my brain went by forty years of habit, and rather than turning to the sink to add water, I did what I do at home: I added more coffee to my cup. By the point at which I had done this maybe four times, my caffeine overdose was taking effect, and I realized what I was doing. Also by then I was shaking so badly I couldn’t hold the cup anyway. Even my son (her brother), who drinks his very strong, came in rather soon after all this and filled his cup, only to spit it out in about a second flat yelling, “That’s the worst coffee I’ve ever had!” He took out the filter to make new, and there, in the filter, you could see a slight circle of white barely above the grounds. A filter full of grounds. Her good intentions were completely appreciated but I’m afraid the results were poured down the sink.
God doesn’t waste lessons with me. Immediately (as in once I had stopped shaking from the caffeine, and stopped gagging from the grease), I began to see the similarity to our Christian walk. As I’ve written before, (probably), we smile and send a big friendly handshake or wave to everyone we know as we go into church, or when we’re out in public. We talk like Mr. or Mrs. Super Christian before the world, but when God looks at us, as He did with the Pharisees, does He see the outside of the cup being clean and beautiful, but the inside being something He wants to gag out of His mouth? In the semi-darkness, with no glasses, the grease on the back burner passed for a clean cup of coffee! The relationship I had with the grease, as fast as it was, let me know I wanted nothing to do with what it held.
The same was true for the other cup, the one that could have been taken out by the spoonful, each added to a cup of hot water, and made a good cup of coffee (that’s what I actually did in Europe). But are we strong for other people, always trying to encourage them, display our efforts on their behalf, but inside have nothing that God wants to use? We have to ask ourselves these questions!
The Pharisees, as we say here in Virginia, “kinda, sorta, figured” that He was speaking of them when He pointed things out. Do you wonder, when you hear the pastor preach something that might possibly apply to you, if it really does? That’s probably the Holy Spirit.
And He’s probably saying, “This is for you. Listen. Learn. Apply.”
God, what a lesson! I’ll hate grease the rest of my life (whether I have much left, or not). Help me, please, to be sensitive to the lessons You have for me, so that I can be beautiful for You on the inside, so that You can use me in any small or big way to help someone who needs to know You better. I love You, Lord. Amen!