Just like many kids raised in the Bible belt, I spent many summers at church camp. I grew up in a family of church hoppers. Born to an itinerant pastor's daughter, we moved from one Methodist church to another, three before I was 10 years old. Then we joined a nondenominational church while I simultaneously attended Nazarene youth groups. Needless to say, I was well rounded in church doctrine. As many different denominations I belonged to, I went to at least as many different church camps, and not always because I wanted to. Some were out in the foothills of Tennessee, and others were practically resorts. I sat through many sermons of all sorts, and heard lots of cheesy metaphors about God.
Although my church camp years have come and gone, there is one sermon that still sticks out in mind. One summer the camp decided to change up their pastoral style. They hired a pastor with tatted sleeves and gages in his ears in hopes that he would be more relatable to the youth (I guess). I do not remember much of what he said, but I remember that one night he was talking about the importance of carving out time to spend with God.
He made the point that in the Christian faith it is essential to have this spiritual discipline. His spiritual discipline was as follows: every morning before his kids woke up he would make two cups of coffee. Not one for him and his wife, but for God. He would place one cup across the table, and the other at his place. Sitting there, he would stare out at the empty seat and steam coming from the fresh cup of coffee and just wait for God to speak to him.
Coffee and Holy Presence
Hearing this as a coffee-fiending high schooler, I thought he was crazy. What a waste of coffee right? In my mind he was just sitting there letting perfectly hot coffee go to waste. In my opinion, this pastor was a bit too extreme. Although to this day I think he was just wasting countless cups of coffee for a God that was never going to sip it, I like the sentiment.
I always have a cup of coffee in my hands. Coffee plays a big role in my life. Not only because I love to drink it, but I have worked as a barista. I know the importance of coffee. I know how it makes people feel. I know how it creates a space for community. Coffee gives you warmth. It fortifies and motivates you to tackle the day ahead. It is a common thread in a lot of people’s morning routine.
The relationship that I have with coffee is synonymous to the relationship that I have with God, and that is why I really appreciate that pastor’s spiritual discipline. Though I would never waste a cup of coffee, I do like to sit and sip my coffee with God. Sipping on a hot cup of coffee puts you in the present moment, and that is where God resides. Wherever I may be, or wherever I am taking my cup of coffee that is my time to reflect on the presence of God.
Some people think that in order to spend time with God you need to have your nose stuck in the Bible, but I don’t believe so. If you look intentionally, God is all around you. God is sitting with you as you watch the sun come up. God is with you as you take your first sip of coffee. And if you are quiet, and you wait, you are giving God space to speak into your life, into that moment. God wants to be a part of your daily activities. God wants to be a part of every moment of your life, but it is up to you to acknowledge God’s presence. Sometimes we ignore the presence, forget it or even shut it out. But what if we welcomed the presence into our lives every morning with our coffee and invited God to stay?
Madison Myers is a student at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in marketing. She has traveled to a majority of America's National Parks and is eager to see them all.