Excerpt taken from Let's Go Find This Kingdom Come - Chapter One
I love to write in coffee shops; the laid-back atmosphere, people meeting other people, most of the time happily. I also happen to be a fan of coffee. I’m not sure who first discovered it, and I refuse to Google it. Some things are better left to the imagination. For instance, if I Google it, then I can’t imagine that the coffee bean was originally called the magic bean. And then I would miss out on the fun thought that I am actually drinking magic bean juice.
You may not know me personally, but you’ve seen me. I’m the guy in the corner with the oversized noise cancelling headphones, the Macbook - cause all good writers use Mac’s - and the North Face laptop bag – a gift from a friend way cooler than me. On the best days, the music becomes my momentum and Gods presence my catalyst. On the worst days, the magic bean juice tastes really good.
I love getting to know the barista’s and the other regulars that frequent the shop. Over time you develop a friendship. Recently I got talking with a regular. Through previous conversations, I’ve pieced a bit of his life together.
He was a tough fella, in his 60s. He had grown up a rancher in the mid west. He had been a minister “in a past life.” He had lost his wife and he had a few grown kids scattered across the US. He loved God, but best I could tell, somewhere along his journey, some of Gods people had hurt him. He didn’t have much love for the church anymore. He could find passion when he talked about church, but it was usually when he was pointing out its hypocrisies and failures.
This fella reads; he is a history buff, but theology is his favorite - any theology, any religion. He sits for hours in the coffee shop reading some new book, always thicker than the last, and never a title I’ve heard of. Once he found out I was a “Christian writer” his new favorite hobby was to challenge me with sweeping questions about theology. He loves to talk about scripture. Every nuance is intriguing, every word is a question, and every mystery is waiting to be discussed, even debated. I learned rather quickly that its not a great idea to ask him what he was reading unless I had some free time.
I’m not, by the way, a “Christian writer.” I’m just a fella who writes about Love. I am not a theologian either, or at least, I’m not a proper theologian. You know, the kinda theologian that loves theology religiously. You see, I’m not very religious. In fact, I very much dislike religion.
I do have a core theology though. It’s quit simple. God is love, and He is always good. If I was a real theologian I would say it this way, “Gods love is perfected in His goodness.” It’s my position on everything. And I’m not much into debating it. I’d rather show than tell…
“How’s your day going?” He asked.
Before I had fully removed my headphones, he had launched into the book he was currently reading. I can’t remember what it was called; The Boxer Rebellion was still playing when he gave the title. I paused my iTunes.
He started quoting scriptures faster than I could Google them and pointing out the hypocrisies of certain Christian leaders, most of whom I had never heard of.
“He’s fired up!” I thought.
I once heard a hero and friend of mine, Bill Johnson, say that he believes Jesus is perfect theology. I like that, a lot. So I don’t want you to misunderstand me when I say I’m not a proper theologian, it’s just that I’m only interested in the theology Bill described.
So while this guy hurtled scriptures, I tried to keep up. I read my Bible, almost everyday. A long time ago I even went to a college with Bible in its name. But it soon became apparent that I couldn’t play ball with this guy. As I listened to him, I began to pray in my heart, “Father what are you saying right now.” Immediately I felt Gods presence - His love. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with love for the fella who was mid sermon.
The question I had asked God was so beautifully answered by Gods presence that I interrupted the fella to ask him the same question, “What is God saying to you right now?”
He paused for a moment, this question seemed out of place, ironic? Yeah, a little… “I’m sorry?” He asked.
“What is God saying right at this moment, to you?” I asked again. I wasn’t being difficult or clever. We weren’t in a competition for significance; I wasn’t trying to win an argument, I don’t need to be right. I know that seems like an odd statement from a man who writes books, but it’s a truth I’ve been growing in for years. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be right, I just don’t have to…
It’s just that, when God spoke to my heart, I felt I had the answer to the question that’s ached inside the heart of my coffee shop friend for years.
He finally got his head around the question and began to reference the scripture and the leader he’d just finished raking over the coals, but I interrupted him to again ask, “What is he saying to you right now, this instant?” He seemed distressed by the question.
It's not really a distressing question unless you are not sure about the answer.
I continued, “God just told me He is madly in love with you! He particularly loves your mind and He is also immensely proud of you - especially regarding how you raised your kids.”
It was that simple, it was that beautiful - Love always is.
For a moment my rugged 60 something coffee shop friend looked like he had just been speared in the kidneys, then there were tears. He smiled, his eyes alive in a way I had not seen before. He caught his breath; I could see he was trying to maintain the appearance of control. Then shakily, he whispered, “Thank you.”
I would like to suggest that God is always saying one thing to us. “I love you”. And this statement is always followed by one question, “Do you believe me?” And I think that’s what Faith is, believing Him. But more on that later…
It’s amazing how even the smallest glimpse of our Fathers love, the slightest brush with His presence, can transform. The moment I shared that short but sweet message from our heavenly Father, our conversation radically shifted. I got to tell him about my theology, have I mentioned it yet?
We had a beautiful time of fellowship as we sipped our magic bean juice and discussed the true nature of God – Love...