Coffee With Gary

I met Pastor Gary Miller last week at a nearby coffee shop. Isaiah 30 came up. He said he would be preaching on it next Sunday. That might be why our conversation centered around the battle imagery.

Either way, we gathered around a kind of flagpole, confessing our rebellion and oppression.

We talked about the difficult paths. Those behind us. And those ahead.

Here, Gary turns and leans his back against the brick wall. His white hair is long, tousled over like a prophet’s. He keeps that dark jacket on, but not because he’s anxious to leave. He simply sat down and wore what he came here wearing.

Gary is that kind of guy.

The table between us is small. Its wooden planks are uneven and full of unfinished coffee rings. Today we contribute two more circles to that conversation.

But there is another one taking place under the table. There’s a secret drawer here. Customers pull it open and place notes inside. Or they scribble responses to the notes others left. Usually, though, people are just curious about what other people are saying.

I opened the drawer once, but I held back from digging through it. It didn’t feel right.

I have enough unanswered questions through which to rifle.

“In repentance and rest you will be saved,

In quietness and trust is your strength.”

(Isaiah 30:15 NASB)

So tonight I’ll meditate on two coffee cups, a bunch of interlocking coffee rings and all the things of the spirit that don’t have a definite shape and don’t fit in our hands.

And trust that He’ll keep pouring.

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23 thoughts on “Coffee With Gary

  1. I especially resonate with the last line – – the things of the spirit that don’t have a shape and don’t fit in our hands. I initally read it as, “that don’t fit in our heads.” Because I can’t fathom so many things. Someone asked me yesterday if I thought a Hindu friend was going to hell. I said no, I don’t think so, but it’s God’s problem, not mine. He is a wonderful man, this Hindu. My friend says he is going to hell. I don’t think we can order God around, or tell him what to do, or let the bible become our idol. Whoa. I can’t believe I just said that. Anyhow, you got me thinking of these things.
    I wonder what Gary would think.
    Probably just put me away in the drawer.

  2. What a gift to have a friend–a mentor, perhaps–to share a coffee and word with. It gives room to our own words, I think, when we share them with others. A lovely story, Matthew.

  3. The best conversations happen over coffee with friends who “wear what they came here wearing”. I want to pull up a chair. And a secret drawer under a table with notes? Why don’t we have coffeehouses like that? Such an interesting idea.
    As always, I loved reading your words here Matthew. You have a gift.

    • I chatted with Gary tonight. “I didn’t even realize that drawer existed,” he said. He thought it was interesting how we had our own conversation rolling along, but then another larger conversation was taking place, too, right below the table. And that’s usually how it is with people, he added.

      He’s a wise man. I love him.

      And I’m always thankful to have you join me here, Danelle. You are a friend and a blessing. And so is your writing.

  4. I followed the comment you left on my blog back to your website. WOW! God has gifted you with the ability to craft His heart into words. I read this post and savored it slowly.

  5. I don’t think I could have helped myself – I would have rifled. I’m nosey that way.

    I love the way you write, Matthew – so much detail. I felt like I was right there with you and Gary, adding my own coffee ring to the table.

    • Whoa. That verse probably collides with most school days, doesn’t it? For me, I know it can be really tough to find, and keep, that rest. But truth wins, right? Yes, truth wins.

      So glad I don’t have to keep that rest. Because I am kept.

  6. I’d avoid the questions, not because I wouldn’t be interested in them, but because I would have been. Focusing on other people’s problems relieves me from my own and somehow lulls me into believing that by solving theirs, I’ve somehow earned points toward my own problems.


    I’m brewing, “things of the spirit that don’t have a definite shape and don’t fit in our hands.”

    • What?! You mean, I could earn points???

      I love your honesty, Christa.

      Well, I guess we’re brewing the same pot together. However long it takes, it’s gotta be better for us than some plastic insta-cup, right?

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