>I love fall! No season energizes me more than fall. It comes after my least favorite season – the hot, humid southern summer. And it leads into a cozy time of winter, which is followed by the beautiful growth of spring. When those first cool breezes come wafting through the trees, I feel a new life sprouting up inside me. When we can once again open our windows and allow fresh air to clear out the house, it’s like a boost of energy through my veins. I absolutely love it!
Today officially marks the beginning of fall, but here in Monticello it blew in last Monday on the heels of Hurricane Ike. As I welcomed the cool air with open windows and plans for school to be held outdoors, thoughts began piling through my mind. The thoughts themselves barely lasted seconds, but the impact has been huge. As I began to think of fall, I also began to think of the arrival of cool weather and of the snuggling under warm blankets and the sipping of warm beverages that will be coming soon. Those are such happy thoughts – Doug and I rising early to have our quiet times before the kids get up; curling up on the couch with blankets and cups of hot chocolate and coffee.
My next thoughts were of the delicious smell of coffee and the warm taste of rich hot chocolate. See, I don’t drink coffee. Mom tried for quite a while to get me to drink coffee with her, but I just couldn’t do it. No, it always had to be a mug of spiced tea or hot chocolate for me. On top of that, I can’t have caffeine. Where many people intentionally consume caffeine to rid themselves of a headache, I will end up sick with a migraine if I consume caffeine. So, coffee has just remained off limits for me. Doug just began drinking coffee about a year and a half ago, though, and I absolutely love to sit on the couch or in the van near him while he sips his deliciously flavored coffee. My hot chocolate tastes great, but the aroma is nothing compared to that of Doug’s coffee!
Now, keep in mind that God tends to speak to me through word pictures. He created my brain to process better when I see something illustrated. To learn I have to actually do something – or at least see it done – rather than just read about it. That’s just part of being a visual learner. So, the next thought that began to flash through my mind was a visual of the different types of coffee drinkers and how that relates to our spiritual lives. And, yes, this still only took seconds!
Some people are like Doug. They like the whole coffee drinking experience. Drinking coffee in and of itself is a pleasurable experience because they like the flavor. There are different levels of people in this category. Doug is the type who doesn’t have to have the cup of coffee, but there are some days that it’s a pretty strong desire. Then there are people like my friend Susan who are practically addicts – they absolutely love the entire experience and just can’t imagine doing without it! In addition to liking the coffee taste itself, they like the effects of the coffee as a pick-me-up and they enjoy the side benefits of the aromatherapy which comes from that flavored brew.
You can probably see where I’m going with this. People who are like this spiritually crave the whole of a relationship with the Lord. True, there are some who are still growing in that relationship and they occasionally miss a day here and there of the intimacy. But, they can’t skip it for long because the very presence of the Lord is essential to their lives. They love the day-to-day relationship, but they also love to see the hand of the Lord, or His effect on their lives, as well as the other benefits, both now and in the eternal, that result from a life devoted to Him.
Next there are the people who may or may not like the coffee itself, but they definitely can’t do without the effects. If they can get the effect from something else, they’ll try – maybe a Mountain Dew here or there to have a change of taste. But, coffee is typically readily available and can be a whole lot cheaper than another source of caffeine and energy. Besides, it does smell good, and part of the pick-me-up is that delicious aroma, even if the coffee itself doesn’t taste all that great. So, they drink their coffee every day for the effects.
Do you know any Christians like that? They don’t necessarily pay a whole lot of attention to the relationship. It’s there, but they mainly go to church, read their Sunday school lessons, and pray to make sure that they have God’s provision and care in their lives. Any effort into the relationship is for the purpose of keeping up the stream of “effects,” and they miss so much of the depth of what God has for them. It’s not so much that they are pushing the Lord aside, but they are just not truly tasting and enjoying the depths of His presence and the daily relationship He has to offer.
Then there are coffee enjoyers like me. I can’t stand the taste, and the effects of caffeinated coffee are very harmful to me. But, boy, do I love the aroma! I love knowing that Doug is making coffee in the mornings because he always lets me have a smell. Mmmmm….I definitely enjoy greatly those side benefits of a coffee drinker in the house!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying the smell while foregoing the taste and caffeine of coffee, but transfer that to the idea of our walk with the Lord and it takes on a slightly less pleasing mental image. The coffee smellers are in it for fire insurance. Christ came to this earth that we may have life more abundantly. (John 10:10) That doesn’t just mean that we get to go to heaven, although knowing that we get to be in the presence of God eternally is pretty incredible. But, answer me this…why would someone want to spend eternity in the presence of Someone they don’t really care to be with here on earth? So many people accept Jesus as their Savior so they’ll live eternally and then they stop there. They don’t realize that the reason we want to live eternally is so we can be where we were made to be – in God’s presence. As long as their souls are safe for eternity, they really don’t seem interested in being in the Lord’s presence daily. They go to church to make sure they’re “doing right,” but day-to-day life is no different than before. They simply want the pleasant aroma of the security of their future.
The thoughts flitted through my mind in mere seconds, but the impact has lasted for days. I can guarantee that I’m not simply an aroma enjoyer in my spiritual life, but how often do I just settle for the effects instead of the depth of pleasure that comes from passionately seeking after my Lord – not just daily but every moment of every day? My goal, my desire, my passion even, is to be one who fully and completely delves into the immenseness of being a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Ps 34:8