Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Starbucks Revival

It was May of 2011.

Starbucks was crowded that morning. 

I ordered my drink and made my way to the very back of the coffee shop and slid into the long church pew.  I spread out pages of teachings and a laptop and bible across the tiny table like "thanksgiving dinner" as Nana says.

This morning was a rare gift for me.

As a mother of six children, I am never alone at a Starbucks- ever.

My husband had offered me the morning in order to prepare for a women's conference that weekend and I just so happen to have a special affection for drinking coffee while it's still hot and any place of business that is holy enough to offer church pews for seating and sipping.

I mean, how fabulous is that? 

Seriously. You just have to love the South.

I would also like to add that being born and raised in the south and in the heart of the bible belt for that matter, one grows up with phrases and funny sentiments and also, lots of talk about revival. And phrases like, "Revival is coming" or "We are praying for revival" and so on...

If you are the least bit Southern- you are nodding right now, yes?

Which is all wonderful and I adore my southern heritage.

But I want to believe that the gift that is revival is living and breathing inside each and every one of us.

And I also happen to believe that we can't be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.

We can't just pray for revival yet rarely demonstrate it.

I know many of you have experienced how demonstrating God's love in many different ways-
actually brings revival.

By simply being willing and obedient.  Not perfect.

By being willing to get over ourselves.  It's not about us. It's about Him.

By being willing to get out of our comfort zone.  That's where the good stuff happens.

And so that incredible day in May an opportunity to demonstrate just that, showed up in the form of a  gentleman who was incredibly heartbroken.

He walked up and sat down in the pew right beside me and I immediately felt his burden.

My heart raced and I knew the Father was about to speak.

After a few minutes he turned and looked right at me and said this.....

"May I ask you a question?"


"I see that you have a bible."


"Well, I wanted to ask you... do you think a man can still go to
Heaven - even if He takes his own life?"

And then I felt the weight hit me .

The weight of a heart so full of despair and hopelessness and all of the "it's never going to work out for me" torment-  that the thought of ending it all sounded like the best course of action.

There really are places of pain and sorrow that deep inside the human spirit.

And I am not proud to share that I personally know the depth of that type of pain.

But since the God of the universe promises each and every one of us that He will use every, single thing in our lives for our good and His glory....

He saw fit to place this broken heart in my path that morning.

I could have packed up my belongings and my steaming hot coffee to leave the pew immediately.

Or I could have completely ignored him and just kept right on typing and sipping.

Or I could have quietly moved to another table and gone on about my busy life.

Or I could have opened the bible and humbly offered to tell him about how much He is loved....

But God asked me to show him.

And because God is big all by Himself and amazing and even radical.

He asked me to show him in a radical way.

And so I gently asked him to share his heart and to share about what life had done to him and I listened.

Because he didn't need to hear scripture in that moment. And I am very passionate about scripture.

But He really didn't need some blonde headed, southern girl in pearls, wearing pink flower flip- flops, for heavens sake- to just tell Him about the gospel.

He needed to experience it.

And so it went that after he shared his heart and the series of events called devastation that had hit his family, including his plan- that as of 4:00 that afternoon, he would no longer be here....

I quietly moved from my comfort zone of that church pew and took the gospel as I know it, out into the parking lot of Starbucks by way of a cell phone, the number of his landlord and his permission.

With fear and trembling and trust that this was the Father just being radical on a Thursday morning, I called his landlord and asked on His behalf a reduction in his rent, time to find a new job before he had to pay again, time to get his first paycheck before the next month would be due, a reduction on his next months rent, because it takes time to recover from job loss, and the promise - her word- that He and his family would not be evicted at 4:00 that afternoon if he brought her a payment immediately.

I never mentioned his circumstances.

Because I personally know this sorrow first hand,  By His grace,  I then walked the living, breathing, sharper that any two edged sword, good news right back inside and handed him the scriptures brought to life.

The small amount needed and all of the newly negotiated agreements written down on a piece of paper.

And revival showed up inside Starbucks.

Right then and there.

Between two people and two pews.

Between two complete and total strangers, opposites by every definition.

Because God is really amazing like that.

In the midst of fifty other people taking care of business as usual.

God leaned down and kissed His searching son right on the forehead.

He intervened using a very unworthy vessel who stopped typing long enough to listen without judgement.

And with all the good that came from God alone from that encounter.

All the blessing.

All the change for the better.

The life and the marriage and the family that were saved.

And the son who found the Father who has loved him all along.

Nothing could prepare me for the good and the change that happened in my own heart that day.

I learned first hand the truth that is this - revival is actually within each and every one of us.

But it only has power when we give it away.  

Revival comes when we demonstrate His love by doing something radical.

Revival comes when we take the time to see sons and daughters instead of situations and circumstances.

Revival comes when we pray for friends and neighbors who have hurt us deeply- instead of retaliating.

Revival comes when we choose forgiveness. When we choose love instead of hate.

Revival comes when we take the proverbs and the psalms and the promises outside of the church pews.

I am sharing the short version of this God story, because He asked me to and out of a heart of humility, as a way to encourage others with the truth that all He needs is a willing and obedient- yet deeply flawed- vessel and revival can show right up - even in the midst of a Starbucks.

And hearts can be set on fire and souls saved and lives changed and families restored.

Because God is just really amazing like that.....

And because maybe this weekend, while you are meeting with friends and loved ones or sitting solo at a coffee shop, you will hear the Father speak and gently lead you to experience revival in the least likely places with the least likely people.

And be changed forever because of it. 

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth- in Him.  In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory."  - Ephesians 1: 3-12


Julie Gaglione said...

Sibi...I love that you give God all the credit and take none for yourself...ultimately, for you, it was so easy to be an extension of Jesus on that particular day...what a blessing for you...

BeautyFull Women said...

Beautiful...Never would have thought of revival in this way. Glory.

BeautyFull Women said...

Beautiful...Never would have thought of revival in this way. Glory.

BeautyFull Women said...

Beautiful...Never would have thought of revival in this way. Glory.

Valerie said...

Oh, Sibi. Wow. Just wow.

My favorite line...(and the couple right before it), "He needed to experience it."


Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

This is hands down my favorite post you've ever written! I wish more people could understand the difference between experiencing God's love and hearing it. Very powerful!

I just lost a friend two weeks ago when she took her own life. And I too have known that despair first hand. It just breaks my heart that my friend didn't know that she truly was so loved. You showed this man such love and compassion and that is just breathtaking and beautiful!


Love Being A Nonny said...

Once again you were the hands and feet of Jesus. I am going back to re-read this and savor it.