In the St. Louis airport recently for an early-morning flight, I ordered my breakfast at a fast-food kiosk and dutifully waited for my order . . . and my coffee. Admission: Morning coffee matters to me.
It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get morning java, but if I don’t get that coffee things get muddled.
As my bag of food popped up on the counter, I got the bad news. “We can’t serve coffee ‘cause we don’t have lids,” I was told. “Get something else over there.” Friends, orange juice friends is not coffee. Nice. But not coffee.
I wanted to say, “But I’ll be careful and all I need is a few sips,” but realized even a herculean argument on behalf of my coffee would fall short. Long ago, someone in corporate decided lidless coffee could lead to a lawsuit. For me, game over.
Upon arrival in Nashville, I tried again—with success. At baggage claim is a coffee bar; I ordered my favorite drink and hauled off to my car. Life was back in focus. All was right with the world.
But driving home, I looked down and saw a fresh stain on my seat belt. Hmmm. Surveying the situation again, there were two more stains on my white shirt. A defective lid. Every future sip would be a crap-shoot.
At stop lights I would lean over so the drippies would fall away from my clothing, averting further disaster.
In all honesty, I wasn’t angry. I chuckled at my dilemma. It was nothing more than a “First World Problem,” hardly worth changing my outlook on the day.
But this led to a question, “What does throw me off?” What does it take to get my eyes off my faith and on to the worries of today’s life?
Thankfully, it’s not something as silly as a lack of coffee or a coffee stain. But my concern is, my tolerance level for difficult circumstances is lower than it should be.
If I want a true 1st Faith—the faith of those who first followed Jesus and first spread the message of good news—there should be little that throws me off.
A few weeks ago, a delayed flight and the thought of not seeing my family for an extra day almost blew up my day. Admittedly, I was 3,000 miles from home and because I was only getting a weekend at home before heading out again, waiting a day to get home would be more than a small inconvenience.
But when I look at people like Paul in the New Testament, it’s easy to see how far I am from the mark.
Paul suffered shipwreck, snake bites, beatings, jail and much more than I can imagine.
While he has moments where he writes about his challenges, Paul never complains or pouts over his circumstances.
In his letter to the Colossians for instance, he waits until his last line before writing, “Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.”
What? The man is in jail and it is only a post script on his letter? If it were me, my first line would be, “I’m in prison! Get me outta here! What is God allowing this for?!”
Hence, there is perhaps a subtle difference between my faith and Paul’s.
Paul had it right. He figured out what was most important. Anywhere he found himself, he understood his mission to share the good news. And he did.
If I want his faith—a 1st Faith—I need to rethink what matters most.
A coffee stain or two won’t derail my day, so I’m on the right road. But to get to a 1st Faith, I’ve still got a ways to go.