It’s not uncommon for me to stop by the local Starbucks and grab a coffee when I’m out and about in the morning. Even though I’ve already had one cup of coffee at home, I enjoy the diversity of a tall Pike Place coffee from the flavored k-cups of my domicile. So yesterday morning I had to run a few errands, and then I hit up the Starbucks which was on my way back to the church office. I was driving a larger rental vehicle, a minivan no less, rather than my normal peppy mini-SUV. It obviously wasn’t set up for my phone to bluetooth in my various music caches, so I was listening to the satellite radio Electronic/Techno station rather than my mix tape equivalent of eclectic music I set aside specifically for driving. At least the minivan had some surprisingly good bass. I felt slightly out of my element, slightly off kilter. As I walked into the Starbucks, one of the regulars, Shawn, noticed that my five year old son wasn’t in tow, and asked where he was. I told him that the Little Man was out and about with a friend. Everything was not normal, and it was obvious.
As I waited in line, I made the decision to not get my regular order. I cast aside the notion of getting the tall Pike, and embraced one of my former favs: the grande nonfat Misto. When it was my turn and I placed my order, you could see the shock register on the barista’s face. But she didn’t say anything to me. I could not help but smile as she placed the order with the other barista at the helm of the espresso machine. His head whipped up, “You mean she doesn’t want a tall Pike?” She shook her head no, and he glanced at me, then cast a look her way as if to say, “Are you sure?!” He shrugged and started on my steamed nonfat milk. A third barista walked by and wished me “Good Morning.” She noticed that I didn’t have my tall Pike and started to grab a tall cup to make it, when the first barista had to tell her that I had ordered something else. The third barista actually asks if something is wrong. Now I’m chuckling, “Nope, God is doing a new thing, and I decided to follow suit.” They are all smiling, but it’s tinged with confusion and maybe even a little discomfort. Maybe it was my decision to speak the name of God. Maybe it was my breaking with tradition and established routine. Either way, with my Misto in hand they all wished me a good day and I departed.
As I got into my massive human being hauling rental vehicle, I took the first sip of my Misto. The creamy taste was alien to my palette, which has become accustomed to pure, black coffee. The second sip was better, almost nostalgic. I used to drink that beverage all the time several years ago. It was a my “go to” at Starbucks, but that was before I gave up cream in my coffee and embraced the world of black coffee my parents always enjoyed. Things had really changed in a couple of years. Maybe the rest of the world wasn’t rocked when I shifted my crucial coffee routine, but going back was not as easy as I had imagined. I had settled into a new norm, and had apparently taken others there with me. Those baristas are used to people who constantly mix it up with their beverage orders, but those of us who are stalwarts, drinking the same thing with regularity make things easy, predictable, and comfortable. I shook things up today, and for no other reason than I was shaken up by circumstances outside my control. My mention of God had more to do with what God is doing in me and my life than my beverage.
I got engaged when just a month ago I was telling people I had no intention of getting remarried ever. My son who had been adamant up to two months ago that I should not ever get married again much less date, is telling everyone he encounters that he is getting a new step dad, and he loves him. My Emergent Worship service is bearing fruit, and touching lives. I am preparing next month to begin the final phase of the ordination process, and hopefully culminate in my ordination next June, thus ending a journey that began seventeen years ago with a call from God. Through all this change, this flux in my life, my faith is growing stronger. I am praying more, and with greater gratitude than ever before. I am writing again, and it feels like coming home, but moving into a different room than the one I left. Maybe this one has more closet space and a better view. God is always at work in the world, the question is whether we are willing to let God work in our lives. I want even more than that. I want God at work in me, so that one day God will be free to work through me in radical ways.
Life is change. It is evolution, growing, stretching, and adapting. It is about dealing, coping, and even embracing that change. Change can be scary. I choose to look at all these insane changes in my life as occasions for God to work, and bring me into the Promised Land where I am looking more and more like Christ everyday. The Promised Land is more than a geographical place with GPS coordinates. It is a state of being where we are in a profound relationship with God the Father, doing the work of discipleship in God the Son’s name, and allowing God the Holy Spirit to perfect us in God’s almighty and endless love. It is not an easy journey, but worthwhile doesn’t being to convey it. It will take everything we have, and give us more than we can imagine. I suspect there will be a lot of tall Pikes along the way. It starts with a sip and step.