Having Coffee with the Lord

Last summer I was in Israel for five weeks – it was my fifth time of visiting the Land. I wasn’t entirely surprised to experience something that I had felt before there – a sense of spiritual dryness and the lack of closeness to God, because my prayer life was sporadic.

I’ve heard other people complain about the same thing. Many people expect to powerfully and continuously encounter God as soon as they step off the plane in Israel. Instead, their prayer life is disrupted when their time fills up with the small needs of travel – organizing their suitcases, washing socks, chatting with new friends, and being short on sleep. At home they might have a regular quiet time, but it gets pushed aside for all the demands of the trip. A person needs to be intentional about carving out time for prayer, and it’s much harder when you’re traveling.

At home, my tradition is to crawl out of bed and head straight to the coffee maker, to brew up some Jack’s Blend. While the coffee is dripping, I turn on my laptop and get out my Bible. Those hours at my breakfast table have been golden – hovering over a big stack of books and my Accordance program – thinking, writing, praying. On Saturdays they often stretch until lunch time, with me still in my PJ’s.

Some summers, when I’ve taken Hebrew courses, I’ve had a tradition with my roomie Mary Okkema of brewing up hot water for instant coffee and tea with the electric teapot that is standard issue in nice hotel rooms in Israel. We would sit on our beds and sip from our cups while reading our Bibles and journaling. But what can you do if the room doesn’t come with a teapot? I actually bought a 220 V travel-sized Israeli teapot in a Jerusalem appliance store last year.

Last summer I had a lovely experience that just reinforced the need to be intentional about that. It was after I had been there several weeks and experiencing the usual dry, sporadic prayer life. We stayed overnight at Ein Gev, a beautiful hotel on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, and my balcony overlooked the water.

I happily brewed up the water in the standard-issue teapot and didn’t wait for it to cool from boiling before pouring it in my cup. It was so hot that I poured milk in to the very brim, and carefully walked over to the balcony with my over-full, boiling hot mug of coffee. I stood there gently blowing on the surface to cool it down. The scenery was so beautiful and calm, I felt like the Lord had come to enjoy the morning with me.

Then I opened my Hebrew-English Bible to the first page, and read the first lines once again.


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters…

This line caught me as I looked again at the Hebrew word for “moving” – merehefet. The word is special – it means to flutter or tremble or hover, as a bird’s wings do. Many people have pointed out that our picture of the Holy Spirit is of a dove, and it is as if the Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters like a bird hovers over its brood in the nest, ready for life to begin.

But that morning I thought of a different aspect of the word – that merehefet also means to tremble or shiver, and that ruach can mean wind, spirit, or breath. As I was mulling over this sentence, I was blowing on my coffee. I looked down at my mug, and it hit me that I was trembling or shivering the surface of my coffee with my breath. I wonder if that isn’t actually the picture there – God was rippling the surface of the water with his breath.

The picture I get now from that line is that God was ready to give his first great command, “Let there be light” and his presence and breath are felt very powerfully, before he even speaks. Like when you turn a microphone up to the maximum, so that even when you breath near it, everyone can hear it.

And then I looked up at the Sea of Galilee rippling with the wind.

Hmmm… the coffee… the sea… the first waters of creation…

It felt like the Lord was saying, “You start your day by blowing on your coffee. I started my first day of creation by blowing on the waters of the deep.” I felt humbled that the Lord would sit down beside me and enjoy the early morning with me, and share this lovely imagery with me.

Ever since then, I’ve been intentional about enjoying the morning’s coffee with the Lord.

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Published in: on May 4, 2007 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Having Coffee with the Lord  
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