Wake-Up and Smell the Coffee

I love coffee. I always have. I love the way it smells and tastes, the way a cup of it rests comfortably in my hand, the way every sip warms my body on a wintry day. Since I was fourteen years old, coffee has greeted me nearly as consistently as the morning sun. I can’t quite say that coffee is “the best part of waking up” like an old Folger’s Coffee commercial suggests, but it’s certainly near the top of the list. As I’ve often quipped with friends who tease me for liking coffee just a little too much, “Coffee isn’t so much a bad habit as it is an addiction.”


Over the years, my understanding and connection with coffee has deepened. Both my daughters are baristas. As they’ve learned their craft and increased their appreciation for coffee, they’ve invited me to discover more too. Things like single-source growing practices on small coffee farms throughout the world, various brewing methods, notes and balances, and opportunities for community and meaningful conversation are all insights and perspectives surrounding coffee I never really considered ten or twenty years ago. For me, coffee has become so much more than a commodity to consume; it’s become part of a rhythm of life that I appreciate and enjoy.


Perhaps none of that resonates with you. If so, I understand. For years, coffee was just coffee to me—something to keep me warm and awake. Heaping spoons of sugar and generous splashes of cream made coffee bearable in my taste-acquiring years. Coffee in those days was to be tolerated, not enjoyed. A warm body and a non-dozing mind was the goal. With seven years of college and post-grad studies, four years of youth ministry, another six years of ministry to university students, and a longstanding belief that I may have inherited a nocturnal gene from my father, coffee had a clear and distinct purpose: artificial stimulation. Coffee was my crutch, an elixir, a turbo charger—a necessary remedy beyond what my body and mind could provide on its own.


Of course, I really didn’t need coffee. I just thought I did. Coffee became the fuel to make my body and mind operate when other fuel sources became absent or depleted.


Coffee may or may not be your thing. Regardless, do you ever feel your life requires artificial stimulation? Far too many people I know, Christian or not, tend to live depleted, half-awake lives. They live beyond their means—not so much financially—but physically and emotionally. Their schedules are too full and their souls too empty. Robotically, they move from event to event, job to job, task to task. They show up, but they’re rarely present. In the absence of sustainable fuel and adequate rest, they look for a double or triple shot of something to keep them going. For some it’s coffee. For others, it’s a pick-me-up dressed up with a different wrapping: living for the weekend, the next vacation, the newest app or gadget, the next thrill.


Then there’re those who have attempted to keep their feet and life moving; but, artificially aided or not, they’re worn out from trying. Many of those weary travelers turn to numbing comforts. They lose themselves in social media, in shopping, in politics, in sports, in volunteering, in work and success, even in serving the church. Whatever keeps their feet shuffling and their mind stirring, they’ll take it, do it, eat it, gulp it. Coffee, comfort, or another stimulant of choice—a fuel shortage always seems to exist.


Jesus has something to say about our fuel sources. In fact, He once addressed a crowd about their fuel sources as they were following him place after place like He was a Red Bull or Monster energy drink distributor. Jesus said to them,


You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free. Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last. John 6:26-27, The Message


Jesus’s message got the crowds attention, hit them like a ton of bricks. They said, “Sir, that’s the energy source we’re looking for. Tell us where to get it” (John 6:34, my paraphrase).


Jesus wasted no time giving them the answer, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:34-35, NIV).


Jesus has the fuel you need. Jesus is the fuel you need. He won’t necessarily prop you up with endless physical energy and mental stamina. Most likely, as you’re present with Him throughout your day, He’ll do things like re-align your priorities, lead you to rest, help you say no to things that don’t matter so that you have energy for the things that do. He’ll help you choose wisely. He’ll teach you His rhythms. He’ll provide what you need just when you need it. He’ll teach you how to live with plenty of the right kind of fuel in your tank.


Want to make Jesus your fuel source for really living? Here are 10 practical steps as you “come to Him” (and keep on coming) and “believe in Him” (and keep on believing Him) as your daily bread (John 6:36).

  1. Acknowledge Jesus knows how to better run your life than you do. A little humility goes a long way. He simply knows better. Trust Him.
  2. Ask Jesus to give you perspective to see things as they really are. Avoid the illusions we often create to justify our choices.
  3. Refuse to play by the world’s rule book. Ask, “What’s best for the King and His Kingdom in this?”
  4. Let God’s rhythm guide you, not popular culture or opinion. Ask, “Is this life-giving or life-taking?”
  5. Say “no” more often. Seek for God’s “yes” and approval more than Facebook friends and family.
  6. Take Sabbaths to rest and be re-created. We were made to work hard and rest well. Don’t be a slave to work or success.
  7. Make intimacy with God your lifestyle. Enjoy God throughout the day. Have conversations with Him often. Engage Him in His Word.
  8. Trust God to provide. He’s a Good Shepherd. He’ll give you everything you need.
  9. Do life with other God-followers who will encourage and challenge you. You’ll be amazed how much added fuel comes from not doing life isolated and alone.
  10. Ask Jesus to help align your priorities and agenda with His. When you seek His Kingdom first and align yourself with His ways of life, all the other things of life will be taken care of (Matthew 6:35).


Recently, I saw a meme that says, “Coffee solves just about every problem.” It made me smile, but it simply isn’t true. The only fuel that really lasts is the fuel Jesus supplies in daily walking with Him.

Leave a Reply