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Thursday morning. Almost Friday, but first thing in the morning, so you know you still have two full workdays until the weekend arrives. You still can’t see the liberation of Saturday morning (AKA noon) even if you squint. So you roll, drag, or fling yourself out of bed with your waning strength, tell yourself that no one cares what you look like on a Thursday, and allow your mental autopilot to get you into your car and down to the refueling station – the Starbucks drive-thru.

The queue of bed-headed white collars in company cars extends past the “Enter” sign at the edge of the parking lot. Great. There’s no way you are going to make it to the office and securely don your headphones before the Tom in the next cubicle begins his detailed oral history of the influence of “The Fonz”. Then again, without your doubleshot on ice, you might not make it to your cubicle at all this morning. So you inch toward the ray of hope beaming from the backlit menu board and place your order, repeating yourself slowly and gruffly three times before the barista gets it right.

As you slide past the talking box, your foggy head begins to protest the lack of caffeine. You stop after just a few feet, desiring the line to disappear so you can face the rest of Thursday. Come on! The dingy Accord in front of you has been sitting there for almost 90 seconds. Is he paying in pennies? By now Tom has probably drawn a Venn Diagram of the first three seasons of “Happy Days”.   Move it! You reflect on the deterioration of society as demonstrated by coffee consumers who don’t realize that the ten cars behind them have places to be at 7:56 AM.   What a jerk. Finally, the clunker sputters forward and out of the parking lot, and you couldn’t be happier to see him go. The bushy-tailed barista leans down to pass you your drink, but as hold out your MasterCard she waves you away and says,
“That’s okay… the gentleman in front of you paid for it.”

Some days, lessons in ingratitude just slap me in the face.

God does stuff like this all the time. We think we know what we want. We say we trust Him and know He knows best, but that doesn’t stop the impatience. So we ask Him for things – maybe even recognizing His will within our desires.  But if answers don’t come immediately, the 7:56 AM self-pity flows in.  Perhaps we are humble enough to consider that we are doing something wrong, asking for the wrong thing with the wrong motive, or perhaps we even acknowledge that God’s timeline is better than ours – as long as it’s not too much longer than ours.

This is not some non-believer problem.  It’s not a Christmas/Easter-Sunday Christian problem.  It’s not a preach-it-to-the-streets problem.  This is a pastor-for-20-years tithes-fifty-percent truly-seeks-to-be-like-Christ problem.  I mean, it’s inescapable!  We spread the BIG HUGE news that God wants to give us His only Son, eternal life, and a place  of safety and comfort in His arms forever.

But God also just wants to give us free coffee.  And just like those other fantastic things, “free” really comes with a price.  Eternal Life is bought with our submission, and “coffee” is given to us when we exercise humility, patience, and trust.  What’s your brew? Free coffee is that spontaneous yet perfect job opportunity that you wouldn’t have been able to accept if one of your 72 previous resumes were looked at.  Free coffee is that last week with Grandma that you would have missed if God had helped you pull together the funds for that New Zealand trip.  Free coffee is the hidden love of project-management or water-skiing that you might not have discovered if you weren’t single.  Free Coffee is the extra hugs and movies with your kids that you wouldn’t have if you were employed full-time.

Everyone longs.  Everyone yearns.  We all ask and plead for things that we think God wants for us.  When we don’t see our exact idea forming into something tangible, we pity ourselves and say that God is obviously not worried about our little desires. Then God slaps something down in front of us – free of charge – and offers us a beautiful gift. Something perfectly crafted by every moment of our lives.  We sat in line at Starbucks, failing to see the beauty of a cloudless July morning and failing to listen to the unique symphony of birds and laughter He orchestrated just for that moment.  We grumble and check our wristwatches, impatiently.

And in the meantime, He is busy rearranging the entire universe to bless us.
So let’s be grateful.

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