With the constant flood of negativity in our culture, it seems like our world is getting worse and worse. But I want to share a story with you to give you hope in both the power of the human spirit and God’s presence.
I was in Charlotte, North Carolina getting ready to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Washington Redskins. Early Sunday morning before the game, I was driving to meet my parents at their hotel when I had the urge to stop at Starbucks for coffee. Knowing that I could get coffee at the hotel, I quickly dismissed the idea. I even changed lanes and prepared to turn. Curiously, the traffic signal didn’t fire and I found myself sitting at an empty intersection with a stubborn red light that refused to let me pass. I’m not naively trying to pin these things on God like He’s some sort-of all-powerful traffic cop, but I believe He was working.
The urge to go to Starbucks crept back into my mind. Whether it was my impatience for the signal or my proclivity to follow these nudges, I rerouted and headed for Starbucks.
When I arrived, there was an older, black gentleman in front of me in line. He appeared to be pre-dressed in his Sunday best, but had yet to fix his tie. He briefly turned to me and complimented my Panther’s hat before ordering his coffee. We exchanged pleasantries and he headed to his seat where another black gentleman was waiting. I grabbed my coffee and headed for the door.
But as I passed their table, I overheard these two men speak of the Holy Spirit. With a quick glance, I noticed a book sitting on their table. It was titled How Rich People Think. If you’ve ready my book, Redefine Rich, you know that I have a serendipitous history with that word and I’ve learned to pay attention when it presents itself. And although I hesitate to give my book to people due to the tension that exists in being self promotional, there are moments when I have learned to distinguish between my own ambition and the gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit. In this case, He was speaking.
Forty-five minutes later, I had two new friends and had experienced a conversation that was divinely appointed.
Coffee and Truth
Guy and Adolph were longtime friends who rarely met in person because they lived hours apart. But this particular morning, they decided to meet at a Starbucks just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. They welcomed me into their friendship, overlooking the prejudices perpetrated by media and culture. To them, I was a brother. They were brothers to me as well.
Instead of seeing black and white, young and old, charismatic and reformed, we saw each other united by the blood of the cross. I shared of my cancer diagnosis and God’s faithfulness in healing me and we gave God thanks, together. Then, Adolph asked if he could give me something.
“Sure,” I said as I listened intently to his words.
“Matt, in the New Testament, the Apostles used to speak truth into the lives of others. I want to share something with you this morning. On the outside, it may appear that you are wasting away, but in your innermost being, your inner man, you are being renewed daily. Day by day, you will be given strength for your journey and no weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
And I thought I was just getting coffee. That morning, of all places, the Holy Spirit showed up in Starbucks. And there, at our table, we joined hands together and we prayed.
The Spirit of Thanksgiving
I recently returned to the same doctor’s office where eighteen months ago, I was given a cancer diagnosis. Fear and anxiety were unwelcome companions as I waited to see if I was still cancer free.
Curiously, it’s not much different from the fear and anxiety that surround us as a culture. It seems as if we’re waiting for the next headline—the next tragedy to strike. Add to that the media’s reporting on racial tension and you’d think that it is unheard of for whites and blacks to pray together in public.
My encounter with Guy and Adolph reminded me that all of the propaganda of the media is hopeless against the unity we have in the gospel and I share this story to give you hope. I want to speak the same truth to you that these two brothers spoke to me in Starbucks that morning. If we hope to reconcile any of the divides in our country, we must place our trust firmly on these words.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
Friends, pause and look for these moments in your life—moments like the one I shared with Adolph and Guy in Starbucks. These moments remind us of things we too often forget. God is bigger than our prejudices. He’s bigger than the media. And He’s bigger than a mega corporation like Starbucks.
If a young white guy can sit and pray with two older black gentlemen in a Starbucks, what else is possible?
I am hopefully reminded this morning that Jesus wasted away, but was renewed by the Holy Spirit and raised triumphantly. As Christians, as believers in Christ, we share in that same Spirit. That is what unites us. In that Spirit, we rejoice. In that Spirit, we are renewed. In that Spirit, we give thanks. In that Spirit, I proclaim that I am still cancer free. In that Spirit, I speak power of racism and racial tension in America.
May that truth cause thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.