This morning finds me sitting at my desk with my fingers on the keyboard and Gordon Lightfoot singing in my head: “I’m on my second cup of coffee and I still can’t face the day.” (Second Cup of Coffee) It’s not a particularly spiritual song, but that first line repeated throughout the song fits the morning and many others I’ve experienced throughout my six-plus decades.
Some days are just hard to face. No, I’m not depressed. I’m not sick or angry or tired. I’m not dreading what is ahead. There are just some days that are hard to face.
Many years ago, in an Expository Preaching class at Harding University, Dr. Jerry Jones took my sermon based on the Luke 9 account of the Transfiguration (verses 28-36) and the verse right after that (37), and ripped it apart. He explained that according to the rules of expository preaching the sermon was technically flawed, and that I could do better. Although I’ve preached several versions of that sermon since and usually had pretty positive feedback, I know he was right.
The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him.
The point I was trying to make from that text (or more accurately, the way I was using the text to make my point) was how difficult it must have been for Jesus – receiving so much and praise on the mountain by Moses, Elijah and the Father – to come down and face a large crowd of people needing to take so much from him.
When Jesus came down the mountain, He was greeted with a man begging for Him to heal his son. Most likely, there were many others with equally pressing needs begging to receive His attention.
In my mind, this would have been a difficult day to face. After being lavished with love and affirmation on the mountain, He was now back in the thick of giving all of Himself, attending to the needs of a crowd of people who had very little understanding of His true identity. That, for me, would have been a ‘two or three cup of coffee’ morning.
What stands out to me every time I read these two passages together is how different the man I am is from the man I aspire to be. I want to be like Jesus, but some days I feel more like Peter- ‘can’t we just stay here? Jesus, have you forgotten all those people down there who want a piece of you?’.
In other words, there are days when I like to play it safe, days when I want to be on the mountaintop and stay there, days when I don’t want to be bothered by the demands placed upon me.
But the reality is, I want to be ready to meet the needs of the people, like Jesus did. I want to greet everyone I meet with a message of hope and a gentle touch, like Jesus did. I want to enjoy the time in the valley as much as the time on the top of the mountain, like Jesus did. I want to use my time on the mountain as a moment of reflection, refreshment and restoration so that I can be ready for what happens when I come back down to face the crowd. I want to be able to face the day, with or without a second cup of coffee, knowing I have taken the time to refuel and get ready for whatever or whomever comes at me, like Jesus did.
If you are reading this at the beginning of the day, I hope you can spend at least a moment with the Lord being reminded of His love for you so that you can be ready for the situations and people that will appear in front of you, like Jesus did.
If you are reading this at some point in the middle of the day, I hope you are comfortable with what God is doing through you, so you can see those in need around you and offer a message of hope and grace, like Jesus did.
And if you are reading this near the end of the day, I hope you can look back over the last twelve to sixteen hours and realize that even in you felt frail, immature and selfish, you were able to express love to someone, like Jesus did.
You may need a second cup of coffee to get you going (or a third and another later in the day), but if Jesus is living in and through you, you can face the day like Jesus did. He will provide refreshment when you need it. All you need to do is take it one day at a time and be a gift of mercy and grace to someone who needs it… like Jesus did.
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved