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October-November 2022

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God and a Good Cup of Joe

By CH Mark McCraney


I like coffee. It might be more accurate to say I love good coffee. In fact, my very strong opinions regarding coffee and the way it should be made and consumed have led my family to call me a coffee snob.

Days begin best for me with a good cup of Joe, but good coffee doesn’t just happen. It is the result of the precise amount of freshly roasted beans, hand ground to the proper fineness, combined with the correct amount of water to achieve a proper water-to-coffee ratio, and then mixed for an adequate retention time. All told, it typically takes me about 20 minutes to make a proper batch of coffee each morning.

I am sometimes asked why I go to all the trouble to make coffee the way I do. In an age of K-cups, programmable coffee pots, and instant coffee, why take the extra time each day just to make some Joe? One answer is that coffee really is better that way. The slow, deliberate method extracts more of coffee’s natural flavors and undertones, and results in a superior tasting cup. In fact, it is good enough that you really don’t need to add anything to flavor it!

But I have another, more personal reason I go through the process every day. For me, it is a daily reminder to slow down. It helps me remember that each day I must intentionally set aside the urgent and concentrate on the most important thing in my life—my relationship with God.

Many of us live each day oppressed by the tyranny of the urgent, madly scrambling from task to task until we collapse exhausted into our beds with a list of still unfinished things hanging over our heads. We’re like a circus juggler on a high wire, frantically trying to keep five balls orbiting above his head while seated precariously on a unicycle. Because we allow ourselves to be so busy with the urgent, we leave no time for the most important. We allow the good to crowd the best in our lives, and this busyness is the enemy of our souls.

As a military chaplain, constantly ministering to the spiritual needs of those around me, I have learned how important it is to slow down. For me to do my job well and to care for others, I must maintain good spiritual health and resiliency. The answer to doing that is found in slowing down deliberately and carving out times for stillness. In Psalm 46:10a, David was told, “Be still, and know that I am God.” At first, it seems like a simple, straight-forward message, but I have learned it is not easy to implement in my life. Perhaps you share that experience. We live in a world in perpetual motion. We all have more to do than we ever get done. If we are completely honest, we may only feel valuable or important when we are moving and doing.

Stillness allows time to care for our souls. It is not inactivity but refined activity with the clear purpose of renewing our souls by finding peace. Being still is choosing to “do nothing,” a purposeful disengagement from all the “busyness” of life. By pausing the chaos for just a few minutes each day to seek stillness, you will find you can be more mindful of the presence of God and more open to His leading.

I have learned I must plan the still time in my day. It must be designated, and I must give it highest priority. For me, it must be early, before my mind is cluttered and my concentration divided. It’s helpful to have a certain place I designate as my “still” place—one spot reserved for my time with God.

I encourage you to take Psalm 46:10 seriously. Don’t let the world mold you into its rat race of constant motion. Create quiet space in your life. Learn to be still. If you don’t, you’ll never really be able to learn to know God. Like the great cup of coffee I described earlier, the slow, deliberate method of being still each day extracts more of life’s natural flavors and undertones, and gives you a better start to every day.

About the Author: Chaplain Mark McCraney serves in the United States Navy and is currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Learn more about Free Will Baptist Chaplaincy.


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists