While visiting a well-known-chain coffee shop during the Christmas holiday, I decided to sit for awhile and enjoy my drink rather than scoot out the door to my next destination.
The cacophony of sounds which embellished this locale reminded me of an orchestra tuning their instruments prior to a performance. At first the sounds seemed like unorganized noise – and could even be considered annoying if in a grumpy mood. But since I slowed down that morning, I heard instead, a strange harmony.
As I listened, I heard eclectic Christmas music playing through the overhead speakers; steamers making hot milk and froth for lattes and cappuccinos; employees taking and repeating orders; a middle-aged man talking with a younger man about weekly events and faith (there was a Bible on the table); two men sharing stories at a perimeter table; the gentle clicking of a young woman typing away on her laptop; the shuffling of the morning newspaper; and the constant stream of people coming and going while exchanging pleasantries with the staff. Did I mention texting? A lot of that.
Most of the customers were in a hurry, but a few not so much. They seemed to be the frequent visitors known by manager and employees alike. There were somber-looking people and joy-filled souls. Some ordered regular coffee, but most selected specialty drinks, custom made to their particular tastes. Many of these specialty drinks are rather expensive, too, but this is an affluent community and the average customer wants for little materially. Nevertheless, there are needs.
To be sure, many a fine author has studied and written about the topic of human needs. There is little, if anything, I could add that would cause you to take notice. Suffice it to say that there are a variety of needs among these coffee lovers that long to be met. Some are on the verge of a collapse – emotionally, relationally, career-wise, health related or possibly financial. Most struggle with something. This much I know…everyone has a story. Some are tragic while some are remarkable and inspiring. Most fall somewhere in between. Perhaps this is why we are drawn to the exceptional, the heroic, and the inspirational.
If we are honest, the majority of us see ourselves as average – and we probably are. There is nothing wrong with that, for without average, we wouldn’t have exceptional! Those who are exceptional – who excel above most -are flaunted and often placed on precarious pedestals of admiration. To be considered the best at something is alluring. Haven’t we all thought what it would be like to be the best athlete, musician, surgeon, writer, race car driver, entertainer, etc.?
And yet, if we actually achieved this vaulted status, we would become susceptible to a host of potential problems, such as loss of privacy, inflated ego, self-absorption, detachment from average people and average lives, and the list goes on. We’ve all read stories of celebrities who still struggle to find love and acceptance, despite having achieved fame and worldly success.
I can’t speak for you, but I want my life to count for something more than a weekly paycheck, a vacation now and then, acquiring things, offering a helping hand on occasion, or enjoying the fellowship of family and friends. These are important, no doubt, but there must be more. Why is it that we feel so empty at times? Why do we dream of fame and success?
I think most of us try too hard in just about everything we do. Whether at work, at home or at play, we push-push-push until we have nothing left to give. Life becomes a balancing act, and peace and contentment seem like foreign concepts. We miss out on the single most important aspect of our earthly existence: God’s unconditional love for His children. Oh, sure, we sense it and pledge it, but do we absorb it? Or do we instead allow obsession with worldly success to take the place of our soul’s deepest longing?
When was the last time you invited the Lord to wrap His holy arms of love around your soul and let Him embrace you? Please be honest with yourself. I hope you can say, “Today I sat next to my Savior, and we enjoyed each other’s company”. But if you haven’t been embraced for awhile, let me refresh your memory as to how wonderful that reality can be.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (KJV).
As you rest in the loving arms of an Almighty God, I pray as did Paul, that you will “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18 & 19 (NIV).