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Sometimes I’m walking with a cup of hot coffee in my hand. Well, I shouldn’t say “sometimes” because it’s an every day occurrence. After my usual brush-teeth-wash-face wake-up ritual in the morning, next up is to go straight to the coffee pot. Nine times out of 10, it is in the just finished brewing stage. There’s a timer built in and it works fine. I suppose it works fine because its rarely been used. My “auto-magic” process has been created and started by my wonderful husband who is not a coffee drinker. He has, however, made a habit of keeping me happy which includes a ready to pour pot before I’m fully awake.

After pouring the steaming tawny liquid into my cup and swirling it with delectable cream, I walk to my preferred chair and set it down beside me. Sometimes I stare out the window first. I like to look out at the world first thing in the morning and see what’s been stirring before I am. This could quite possibly be my favorite time of the day. Before busyness, before rush hour traffic, prior to the phone ringing, or perusing the email, it’s quiet and I’m alone with my thoughts. Later, I might share these same thoughts with Mike, which we both enjoy doing…sharing our thoughts and sometimes the process that led them there, but for now only Jesus is listening. 

There have been times that for whatever reason, I take my eyes off the things I have been seeing through unfocused eyes and realize that my coffee is about to spill over the edge. I quickly straighten it again, careful not to lose a drop. Other times I haven’t noticed that my hand was holding the cup in a crooked manner until the heat has advised me that it has been spilled. It always surprises me, whether spilt or not that I am capable of holding something in such a precarious way. My mind thinks my hand is doing the right kind of job and when the wet and hot sensation advises differently, my mind says that I’m an idiot for not watching what I’m doing. 

There’s a point.  Keep listening.  I’m driving down the road yesterday (and yes, this has happened before too) talking to my daughter on the phone. Chit chat, really, nothing earth shattering. I enjoy talking to this child-friend of mine, an adult herself I marvel at her wisdom and wit and love to hear her laugh. I was taking a different course because only moments before my phone call I had heard the traffic report that alerted me to an accident on my regular route that had 2 lanes blocked and cars were backed up to the previous exit. I’m not entirely sure it would have made much difference, although I am used to one more than the other, but this day there was no traffic to speak of and the merging process was easy as I just sailed through on my track.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a careful driver. I don’t take stupid chances, I am vigilant to stay in my lane and alert to the speed-both mine and those around me. But I was on “auto-pilot” because my attention was on my daughter’s conversation.  In a watchful moment, I was alert to the car trying to change lanes behind me and another in front of me was easing to the right to also take the exit. I looked at the exit sign and thought, my exit is next….or is it? No… this is my exit. Too late to be as secure as I wanted to be, I kept driving and safely took the next exit instead. Alls well that ends well, I only lost a few minutes and some gasoline.

Now for my point. In both instances, I am in familiar territory. I am in a rote pattern of habit. Yet, my attention or lack of, has caused me to have a little mishap. The things of which I speak of have little or no consequence to my life except to remind me that I’m not always as “right side up” as I think I am. The coffee didn’t burn me and my directional lack didn’t cause an accident although either could have had different consequences. I remind myself to be more careful so that I can remain in one piece.

Obviously there are more severe instances that happen in our lives. While we weren’t watching or paying attention, our wisdom was seriously lacking. In the course of time, the steps we took on the wobbly stone caused a stumble. The choices we made and the direction we took did not end the way we thought it would. Our hearts were in the right place, but our actions caused a collision.  Some of us have had a journey to the valley of the shadow of death and other paths have left us bleeding and grieving. There are circumstances that affect us deeply and others that have left us maimed. In retrospect, I would make different choices. I would say different words. I would treat the situation with more respect. I would endure a little longer. I would listen intently and speak less.

Spiritually speaking, we think we are totally right side up but the hot searing mistake tells us differently. The Bible is not a textbook, but sometimes we approach it that way and we get in the rote reading pattern and its just words we are tumbling through. We’ve read them a hundred times, but we haven’t heard it. We haven’t put ourselves on the street with Mark and Andrew and heard the clanking sounds of the street vendors. We don’t feel the swaying ship or mist from the waves, or smell the sea salt air as Jesus is rocked to sleep below the deck. We don’t hear the crowing of the rooster with Peter, or run with him out into the night as he wept bitterly, the sounds of the chatter drifting over the airwaves behind him. We are driving, thinking, talking and readying ourselves for the day.

The day bleeds into night; we sleep. We wake to a new day, go about our to do list and march to our time clocks until time to sleep again. Have I been aware today? Was I careful to listen? We are broken people, living in a broken world. Our frames are bent, our lives are imperfect. We try. We fail. We try again, this time we succeed. Are we tuned in to the Spirit? Do we quiet our inner voice and concentrate on what God’s Spirit wants to breathe into us? Is this why the pain come? To teach us to walk differently? Is this why that job didn’t work out? So that we could live in a world where we know we would have need of Him?

What does He want to tell me? I don’t want to miss a thing! I’ve been a Moses- murdered my innocent life by marrying the wrong guy and ended up in the back side of a desert.  God met me there. I wasn’t too far out where He couldn’t find me. I’ve been a Peter- denying my identity was with Christ and living in my own arrogant self efficiency and ended up crying bitterly when I realized I’m nothing except what He has created in me to be. God gave me a second chance. I’ve been a Paul- scoffing and beating the innocent with my religious attitude when I find myself worse than those I had judged before. God blinded me with His light and let me see again with new eyes. What is it going to take? Pain? Suffering? Sickness? Aloneness? Hunger? Knowing the end result, I want to scream, “Bring it on!” but when I’m in the midst of the excruciating circumstances I want to change my mind and tell God that I don’t have to be molded anymore. I’ve had enough. That’s when He tells me that He walks with me, I’m not facing anything alone. To be like Him, I have to walk where He walked. I have to be shamed and hung. I have to be striped and persecuted. I have to be speared in my side and mocked. And then I have to die so I can be fully alive. I have to die so that He can live in me. I have to crash so that I can learn to pay attention. I have to be struck blind so that I can see. I don’t want to miss a thing.