Wednesday, June 28, 2017
First Cup, Second Cup (Part One)
I usually start my day with a cup of tea. I try, though I am not always able, to do my Bible reading soon after waking up in the morning also. First, I do the boring, but familiar, mundane rituals: I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, take medication, put on my robe and slippers, then go to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. This will be "first cup".
While, in my morning stupor, I am waiting for the tea to brew, I clumsily tidy up in the kitchen – – emptying the dishwasher or loading it, wiping off the counters, and opening the blinds to let the sunshine pour into my breakfast nook. Bright light is an essential part of getting going in the morning for me. I then remove the teabag from my cup, add the milk and sugar to my tea, wipe up the inevitable spill on the counter, turn off the kitchen light, and gingerly (hoping not to spill) make my way back to my bedroom to my quiet-time chair where I am able to open my Bible while I savor my first cup. This is the simple daily routine that prepares me for my time with God.
"First cup" typically involves reading five Psalms, one chapter of Proverbs, and whatever section of the New Testament I'm currently in. (When I finish the New Testament, I plan to start over in the Old.) During "first cup" I read, underline passages that speak to me, write notes in the margins of my journaling ESV Bible, and record favorite scriptures on cards that I keep near my chair. If I have time, I also write in my prayer journal where I make notes about the date, time, and place, my prayer requests, the requests of others, answered prayer, and thankful praises. Usually, by the time I do this, I have finished my first cup of tea, and I have to get busy, get dressed, and ready myself to face the day. I don't always finish what I hoped to do during "first cup", and it ends up being my only cup and sometimes even just a half-cup!
The temperature of my tea often gauges the attentiveness I have toward making the "first cup" be for my time in the Word. If I let it get cold, it is usually because I have done too many little tasks before getting back to my quiet-time chair. I am distracted and have made myself busy before I stopped to be quiet. I have to make sure that my priority is God-book, not Facebook, and leave my smart phone on silent--elsewhere, where it is plugged into its charger and not demanding my attention. I need to plug-in to my Charger before I look at the phone.
There is sometimes a blessed interval in the morning when I have already read my Bible and am anticipating settling down with a second cup of tea to listen to God and focus on writing in my journal the practical application of what I have read. It is after I do other tasks necessary to get the day started and only on days I don't have to go in to the office. It is when I am able to return to my quiet place for more--more tea and more of what God has for me.
Today, I didn't think I would be able to have that second cup because I had an appointment with my trainer to work out at the gym. However, she cancelled because her son is sick. Instead of bemoaning the time I didn't have to stretch out my sore muscles, I gladly settled down with my second cup after letting out and feeding the dog, sorting and starting a load of laundry, washing more dishes in the sink, and answering one call from my secretary and another from a physician's office. Whew.
Now I sit here, guiltily relieved that I don't have to exercise, feeling privileged to sit sipping my second cup of tea, listening to His still, quiet voice, and writing in my journal. It is a sacred time, a place of refuge and renewal, a portion of peace that I don't often get. The more I ponder about this second cup, the more I realize that there is more to say about it. I will save that for next time.
"Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me."
"Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol."
Psalm 86: 11-13
"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge that may tell of all your works." Psalm 73:23-28