June 11, 2019: I must be tired this morning, as evidenced by the fact I poured the sugar into my coffee cup…before I poured in the coffee! That may be the common sequence for you or most of my coffee-drinking friends, but not for me. And as I stared at the granulated crystals in disbelief, I started to chuckle.
The Lord often brings Scriptures to my mind at the oddest times. In that moment, glaring into my sugar-only coffee cup, that act represented the futility of effort without purpose, and I thought of Ahimaaz. No, not by his exact name at first…but I recalled the Old Testament incident of the youth who insisted on running a considerable distance to King David as if he had an urgent message — even though he had been given no message to carry.
In 2 Samuel 18:19-32, Ahimaaz the son of Zadok earnestly requested that Joab allow him to carry news of Absalom’s death to King David. Joab refused his request, stating, “You are not the man to carry news this day, but you shall carry news another day.” Ahimaaz repeated his request to run, to which Joab responded, “Why would you run, my son, when you have no reward for going?” Finally, Ahimaaz insisted that even without a message to deliver, “But whatever happens, I will run.” Joab finally gave consent for him to go ahead and carry out his plan.
Ahimaaz not only ran the full distance, but ran with such great speed he actually passed the Cushite messenger Joab had commissioned to perform the task. And, upon arriving, bowed before King David with a greeting of generically good news. Since he was unable to answer the specific questions on the king’s mind, he was instructed to “Turn aside and stand here.” The actual messenger had been observed from a distance and was now approaching.
Sugar in a cup devoid of coffee. That’s what Ahmaaz was, on that day.
And unfortunately, we all fall into that category at one time or another.
The apostle Paul pointed out to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win…therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air…” (I Cor. 9:24, 26)
Tiredness. Distraction. Misdirection. The monotony of too-full days following one after another. The world and the enemy work overtime to procrastinate or eliminate any sense of divine destiny we may contemplate. The goal is to conform us to a role of subservience, being little more than slaves whose lives unceasingly focus on meeting worldly obligation and expectation.
Prayer. Worship. Reflection on His thinking, His priorities, His lifestyle. Aligning choices with His wisdom. Discovering our part in His plans and consciously choosing to focus and move forward in that direction with deliberation, acknowledging that we are His hands, feet, and voice on the road we travel.
In Acts 20:24, Paul makes reference that he needed to “finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus.”
It is not only Paul who had a course and ministry to finish, but the same Christ Jesus also gives to each one of us a course and a ministry. Paul taught those in Ephesus, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)
Some of our courses are what the world labels “grand” or “extraordinary”…and some are what the world would consider modest, perhaps even inconsequential.
Yet, was Jesus’ command to His disciples, “Permit the children to come to Me” (Mark 10:14) any less holy, God-breathed, or manifesting-the-Father’s-love than His command to Lazarus, “Come forth!”? (John 11:43)
Not really. There is no greater wonder than an omniscient, all-wise and loving God who states that “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” with respect to children. As translated in The Message, Romans 9:21-22 asks the question, “Isn’t it perfectly obvious that the potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?”
And there we are. Some of us shaped as coffee cups that are truly breathtaking in their intricately shaped handle and elaborate gold-leafed, colorful adornment….and some who are one-shaded, simply designed, functional without any specific distinction.
The shape of the cup is not ours to choose…our choice is to liberally be filled with His coffee and not conduct our lives as empty vessels containing only a small scoop of sugar.