I woke up later than I was supposed to yesterday morning.
Church started at 9am, not 10:30am like back in Chattanooga. I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t gotten up earlier than I should have, but shrugged it off, knowing I needed the sleep.
I decided I would go to the 11am service instead, so I made some coffee and chocolate chip Eggo waffles, threw on a nice outfit, and left my house a few minutes later than I probably should have.
Once I entered the downtown area, I was reminded of how early I should have left the house because there were no parking spots in Chippewa Square. I drove around that circle, and in a million different circles throughout the different streets surrounding my church. Finally, a vacant spot was found at Madison Square, about a ten-minute walk away from the church building.
Frustrated and sort of out of patience at that point, I looked at my cell phone for the time. 11:23am. I sighed, knowing I’d missed basically half of the sermon by then, and tried to figure out what to do. How could I drive all the way out there, and not go to church? My spirit knew that it needed to be fed; it had been a while since I’d gone to church since I was out of town all last week.
Determined to at least read my Bible on my own, I grabbed my things from the front seat, and made my way toward the church. The sun hid behind light grey clouds, and there was finally a coolness about the air that finally made it feel like it was November. It wasn’t too cold though; my over-sized denim jacket with its sleeves that stopped mid-arm felt perfectly warm to me.
By the time I reached Chippewa Square, it was well over 11:45. I spotted the local coffee shop across the street, and debated whether I should go inside there or walk a little ways longer toward the Starbucks.
Meh, why not?
The Gallery Espresso was a little bigger on the inside than I expected. Inside there were many students on their laptops or reading books, and there were other customers – couples, small families, older people – simply enjoying their brunch or coffee, and the company of those surrounding them or lack thereof.
I walked up the wooden ramp toward the counter behind a couple who was excitedly chatting with a fellow who had been sitting in the coffee shop waiting for them. As I tried to decide what to order (which didn’t take long since there was something called a “mochaccino,” and that sounded perfectly fine to me), I still tried not to be too frustrated about missing church.
Just because you aren’t going to be singing praise music to a band, or listening to a sermon, doesn’t mean the Lord can’t meet you where you are this morning, I thought.
As I watched one of the girls behind the counter make my drink, I got extremely excited to see that she was making a little design on the foam with chocolate syrup. I’d never had coffee with art; in fact, it was on my “101 Things To Do in 1001 Days” list, hence why I was so excited about it. I could cross it off the list after this morning.
I sat on a stool atop a small bar a little ways from the counter, and, after snapping a quick photo of my coffee and my Bible, I read Psalms 61-63. The first verse of Psalm 63 truly described what I was feeling that morning, and really for the past few days:
“O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t my prayer all the time; life, and I, get in the way of what truly matters, what I should really be focused on. But my heart longs to make this one of my prayers – to earnestly seek after the Lord, instead of seeking the approval of others, or the perfect career, or whatever.
Since I’d been traveling all last week, and focusing a lot on the conference I was attending, I didn’t really have too much time to just sit and focus on the Bible. Had I seen the Lord working and moving through the week? Oh, most definitely. But I yearned to have that good chunk of time where I read my Bible, and earnestly prayed for my loved ones without any distractions.
In that small coffee shop, reading the words of David, I was totally encouraged, renewed, strengthened, assured.
Now, does this mean I’ll be spending all my Sunday mornings in the coffee shops instead of in the church? OH NO. If I can make it to church, I’d take that over reading the Bible on my own in any coffee shop, any day. I am definitely not ordained.
But I was originally frustrated because I thought I wasn’t going to get what I thought my spirit needed – time in the church, among the people of God, listening to Pastor Grant preach on “thriving in Babylon.”
It was comforting to be able to just spend time with the Lord, and feel His presence even though I unexpectedly missed church yesterday morning. Walking back to my car, the brisk air felt invigorating. I felt extremely thankful for the time I had instead of upset that my original plans didn’t work out.
The Lord knows what we need, and I guess that is just what I needed yesterday morning – physical rest, a lesson in patience, and trust that He would revive and renew my spirit in His own way.
And He even added the coffee with latte art into the mix.