I must soberly confess that I have throughout my life given in to habits and rituals. I don't like saying that, but it is the truth. At this point, I don't know the difference between a habit and a ritual.
One ritual I have is when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is have a nice hot cup of coffee. This is what really gets me going in the morning. You do not want to meet me before I have my morning cup of Joe.
There was a time I changed my habit and had hot tea in the morning. I thought that might be a different change in my life. Believe me when I say it was a change. You did not want to meet me after having my hot tea in the morning. In fact, I didn’t even recognize myself after that hot cup of tea.
Before we go to bed each evening, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage prepares the coffee pot to go off in the morning so it's ready when I get up. I'm not sure how many years she has done that, but she did it today, and that's all that counts.
There's something about coffee that juices my energy each day. I don't know what it is, but I'm okay with it as long as it does that.
When I was a youngster at home, I never liked coffee. I figured out later it was because my parents used instant coffee. When I got a hold of the real coffee, I never went back to that instant coffee nonsense.
The other morning something different happened.
I got up in the morning, as usual, I went to prepare my coffee. I'm not really that awake at this point in the day, but it's a routine, and I just went through the routine of getting my coffee ready and then go to my chair and have my morning devotions.
Everything went well until the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came into the room where I was, she stood there staring at me and finally said, "How's your coffee this morning?"
I bounced a smile back to her and said very enthusiastic, "It's the best coffee I've had all day."
When she smiles at me, I know something is wrong. For the life of me, I could not figure out what was wrong so early in the morning. Here I was, I have my coffee, I'm reading my Bible and she comes with this kind of inquiry.
“So,” she said rather hesitatingly, “your coffee this morning is just like normal?”
I chuckled and said, "Just like my coffee every morning."
“Maybe you should look at your coffee again,” she said.
As I looked at my coffee, it did look a little different. The coffee was whiter than usual, but that's all I could see.
“Take a sip and tell me what you think.”
I took a sip, it was hot and I didn't notice any difference.
Perhaps this is my problem throughout life. When I'm in the habit of some sort and going to a ritual, I don't notice what's going on. Isn't that what a habit is supposed to do?
"For your information," my wife said somewhat sarcastically, "I forgot to put the coffee grounds in the coffee pot last night. All you have from the coffee pot is hot water."
I laughed a hearty laugh. I looked at her, thinking, of course, she was trying to trick me into something. Then she brought the coffee pot in and showed me. Sure enough, the water in the coffee pot was water and not coffee.
I did not know what was going on. I just stared at her in a spirit of unbelief. I couldn’t understand what I did wrong.
She looked at me, and her smile faded, and then confessed. "I forgot to put the coffee grounds in the coffee pot. That's why the water is clear. It was my mistake."
For the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage to confess to some wrongdoing is a moment in marital history.
I stared at her for a few moments, not knowing what to think, and then I broke down in hilarious laughter. "So, I'm not drinking coffee this morning."
Together we laughed for a few moments, then she went back into the kitchen and made the coffee all over again, and this time she did not forget to put the coffee grounds in the coffee pot.
As I was drinking the real coffee, I pondered the issue a little bit. How many times I am doing that sort of thing in my daily life? Maybe I’m going through certain rituals and habits and not realizing that I’m not really doing it what I think I’m doing.
Just like I thought I was drinking coffee, maybe there are times I think I'm doing what God wants me to do, and perhaps I'm not, just going through the motions.
In reading the Scriptures that morning, I read, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus 3:8).
Each day, my goal is to make sure I'm carefully doing what God wants me to do for His honor and glory.
Dr. James L. Snyder, is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. James is an award winning author whose books are available at https://amzn.to/2SMOjwO.