In some of my recent posts, I’ve talked about chaotic the summer has been for Jana, the boys and me. I was ready for the fall. The chaos of the summer led to me making excuses, making a choice, to not find time to rest and devote the necessary time I need to with God. Not having consistent time alone with God affected me.
I realized I wasn’t myself. It’s like, I’m there physically, but I’m not really there. John 15:5-6 is appropriate.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
I was slowly withering because I wasn’t abiding in God. What does that mean, though, to abide in God? Let me tell you what it means for me, in this current season of life, as I tell a story.
At the beginning of the year, I made the conscious effort to wake up early, get ready and go to a nearby Scooter’s Coffeehouse. I would read and study the Bible and pray. It was great. It was refreshing. It worked for my stage of life.
Before I’d head out in the morning, I’d spend some time with my boys. I’d usually read them a book, and then head out. On the drive, I’d usually be listening to a sermon podcast by Mark Driscoll or Tim Keller. Get to Scooter’s, buy a drink (usually a caramelicious), sit at a table and start reading and writing about whatever chapter I was on that day. Trying to do this early at work? Forget about it. Once you’re in the office, people find you.
This morning time was a way of calibrating, getting me set for the day ahead. When I look back on the first six months of the year, I see it as when I was living life the best. I seemed to be operating near optimum as a man, husband and dad. I was doing well at work. It was great.
There wasn’t a conscious effort to get out of this routine, but I noticed that things were starting to come up that I allowed having me drift away from this routine. When the summer hit, it exacerbated things. For about two months time there didn’t seem to be a week that was consistent with the week before. However, I allowed that to affect me.
I also thought it was silly that I “needed” to go to Scooter’s in the morning for this time with God. That I had to have this time to “calibrate”. I thought I could do this at home or at work. And it’s true, I can. I also felt a bit guilty that my boys weren’t seeing me spend time with God. I heard some pastors talk about how important it is for you to spend time with God so your family can see it.
While I was thinking about that, I started taking a look at my expenses. I was spending $3-$4 each time I went there.*
*It’s hard for me to go into a coffeehouse and just do work there without getting something. Personally, I find it rude. I buy a coffee since I’m using their building, wifi and environment. The staff is serving me. I don’t think it’s right for me to sit there and work and not get something. That’s me, though.
I was spending around $15 a week there, and that begins to add up. Wonder how I came up with the Starbucks stat in this video? Now you know.
So, I pulled back on my time at Scooter’s. I was disappointed because I liked having this time to myself, some solitude, to start off the day. I liked the people I had begun to interact with at Scooter’s. I liked how I had learned a lot during my times of study there. However, when I looked at the factors it seemed the right thing for me was to not go anymore in the morning.
With the crazy amount of expenses we had come up during the summer, I thought it was wise to not spend the money on coffee. (And, really, I don’t like coffee, as most know it. I’m into “Beastie Boys coffee”. I like my sugar with coffee and crème.) I also wanted to my boys to see me reading and studying the Bible at home in the mornings.
You know what happens when I study the Bible at home? The boys want to play. They interrupt me. Do I mind? No, but it makes studying and reading hard. They are three and two years old. They don’t care about some insight I just gained from Numbers, they want to “play tackle”. When Jana tries to pull them away, so I can read, study and pray, I can hear them asking for me. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” It’s kind of like this clip from The Simpsons.
What slowly started happening is I was having less and less time with God. I was trying to do what I thought was the right thing with expenses and with family. An effect of this choice was I was drifting from who I needed to be as a man, husband and dad. It wasn’t obvious at first, but I started noticing that I didn’t seem to be doing as well in life as I had been the first part of the year. I chalked it up to the chaos and stress of the summer, and that was a factor, but I wasn’t spending the consistent time with God like I had been. I can say other things got in the way, but it comes back to choice. I chose to allow things to be a factor in me not spending consistent time with God.
As I noticed I wasn’t “clicking” with life, I looked back on the first half of the year. I remembered how the time at Scooter’s was refreshing. Still, I didn’t think it was prudent for me to go in the mornings. I should’ve checked with God.
Recently, I believe it was October 17, I was going through the motions of the day and realized I needed to get back into the morning routine I had. I remembered the first part of the year and how good I was doing in life. I wanted to do it for myself, Jana and the boys. I wasn’t sure how I could pay for coffee a couple times of week, but I knew I needed to do it.
The next day was Monday. So, I got up early and got ready to head out to Scooter’s. I drove around for twenty to thirty minutes and prayed about my predicament. I told God I know I don’t have the money for it, and it is a bit ridiculous and cliché, but for my season of life I do well when I have devotional times at Scooter’s. I went through all the pros and cons, I went through the reality of where I’m at. I asked for provision for coffee, which I knew and even said, sounded ridiculous. Especially when we are in debt and trying to pay that down, and have committed to giving to the Double Your Impact campaign at church. Believe me, the irony was not lost on me that I was asking for provision, for coffee, when I just produced a video about how you can save money by sacrificing coffee.
So, I’ve been talking for a while, and then I get this random thought in my head that I think is from God. “Are you going to be smart in managing the rest of your finances?” I said aloud, “Yes.” And that was it.*
*One year ago, Jana fractured her leg and we’ve been playing catch up on bills since then. If you read my blog regularly, you know about the expenses we had come up over the summer and fall. Plus, we have another baby on the way.
It may seem strange that God would provide for coffee, but I don’t think so. I think it’s partly why He asked me about the rest of my finances. Why provide for coffee if I’m going to be foolish with the rest of my expenses. It may seem hypocritical, but to me it seems necessary. I’m spending money on coffee as I’m praying for provision. Didn’t I do a recent post on minimalism? Yes, but that’s not how I see this. I’m having time with God: reading the Bible, studying and praying. The effect of this is making me better as I go about life as a man, husband and dad.
Jana and I talked it through, and she’s been a big supporter of this decision.
The early returns? Awesome. I’ve had great times of study and prayer, and I just feel more in tune with God, family and life than I did over the summer.
Is it too much to be at a coffeehouse? Entirely possible. This Scooter’s is relatively quiet, it has wifi (look up concordances online), and I’ve struck up a few conversations with people because they see me reading the Bible. I may fit the bill of hipster pastor at a coffeehouse. So be it.
As far as my boys? Well, even before I started back at Scooter’s in the mornings, I had started reading a Bible story to them in the mornings out of their Kids’ Bible. They like this time, and even make requests. For instance, Duncan likes the “fiery furnace”. It gives me more quality time with the boys, and helps them to see how important it is to read the Bible.
Will I keep doing this morning routine? Well, for now I will. Life is always changing. Family is always changing. Work is always changing. As it has been said, “The only constant is change”. Still, with where I am at in life, it is the best for me right now.