The Man Who Hated Me in the Coffee Shop

And do you think they’ll line up to thank us when we turn their world upside down?

When we exclude all the ways they devise to build their own stairways to heaven and point to the solitary stairway that hung on a cross, do you think they’ll applaud in breathless awe?

When our words declare their hearts’ desires are idols, and when the truth we speak splinters those idols into worthless shards, who wants to take odds they dash for super glue before they embrace us in gratitude?

When we demonstrate love that we’ve learned from the One who is Love, so they see all they’ve known is shadow love, will they invite us to share their table or plot our demise?

Imagine if we tell them that our God, who created the hell below us and the Heaven above the skies, was the Intelligent Creative Mind behind John, Paul, George, Ringo and every note ever composed, strummed, sang, or dared imagined, will they laugh and ask us what time our worship meets or hate us for not joining them in concert with the darkness?

The first followers who bore the infant church into all the world were not welcomed any more than their Savior was.

Of course, at the sight of miracles, at the preaching of the gospel, at the testimony of the apostles, many were awed, and repentance followed.

But always in the crowd were more who chose envy, anger, fear, rage, deception, persecution, and murder through torturous means because they loved their own devices more than the Truth that created them.

Do you think humanity has evolved some different type of unbeliever?

Leif Enger wove the truth into his novel, Peace Like a River, when he penned, “Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It’s true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave – now there’s a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.”

A man, over coffee, called me a fool for believing the Bible because it’s “full of contradictions,” then snorted when I agreed.

“It’s those very contradictions that anger you most,” I replied. “It’s that the truth of them contradicts the shell game of lies that is your life.”

He narrowed his eyes and I caught the glint of hatred he tried to cover with civil debate, sitting as we were, acquaintances in a coffee shop in broad daylight where persecution seemed a distant, archaic thing though no doubt it lurked nearby waiting for an unguarded dark heart into which to curl. “You agree it’s full of contradictions?”

“I do.” I nodded and prayed for boldness. “The Bible contradicts all that we can perceive with our natural minds – pushing us, uncomfortably, to peer into the unseen.

It contradicts the fallen nature in each soul still striving to seek only its own selfish desires.

It contradicts what the world calls freedom and names it the captivity it is, testifying that obedience is freedom and the way of the cross is eternal life.

It contradicts the predictable order of disease, distress, darkness, and death because Jesus began the reversal of such things when He ushered in the kingdom of healing, peace, light, and life.

And it contradicts the modern notion that we answer only to ourselves and not to a Higher Being who will one day determine our eternal destination. Oh, yes, the Bible is full of contradictions and I understand they can be very disturbing. I am disturbed by them, as well.”

(It came out rougher in the telling as the writer in me demands I smooth the edges in the retelling.)

“I don’t like you,” he admitted, more refreshing than offensive really. “I suppose you’ve made peace with all the contradictions.”

I shook my head. “Jesus is the peacemaker. I’m just along for the wild ride. But, no, I’m in the process of becoming at peace but the contradictions hit me hard in the soul-ar plexus, too, like love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and speak the truth in love.

These contradictions hurt me where I live, and I’d prefer to find a more comfortable pathway home. But there it is. He’s my ride and that’s the road He took.

He shook his head, stood, swallowed his last cold swig of coffee and left me thinking about my brothers, Peter and Paul, and how often I’ve longed for an Acts of the Apostles life, but this single conversation left me drained and all it cost me was the disapproval of a stranger I’ll never see again.

Easier to order my coffee bold brew than to submit to a courageous delivery of the gospel. And when I read of beatings, imprisonment, rejection, and greater persecutions to come, I know I’m not equipped in myself for such times.

But here, His Word contradicts my fear and self-loathing and tells me I am an overcomer, and am more than a conqueror, and I believe.

I return to my novel and find that while I feel myself alone, I am not, because Leif Enger also wrote, ““We and the world, my children, will always be at war. Retreat is impossible. Arm yourselves.” ― Leif Enger, Peace Like a River

And I ask God to make me one who advances.

So, He sends me to my other book, and I read, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10: 35-39 ESV

Can I get an Amen?

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18 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Bruce A Cunningham says:

    Amen!!!
    I’m very concerned about the lack of believers that aren’t experiencing the same thing.

    May our Father stir up His children to seek such encounters.

    Such encounters demonstrate the love and honesty and solid conviction His children enjoy.

    It makes the unbeliever secretly envious.

  2. Terry & Patricia Laampel says:

    Lori, this is excellent, so jam packed wt Truth. Thank you for putting into clear, easy-to-read text what we often experience, or at least should be experiencing. Keep on Keeping On, wt your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus!

  3. Kathleen says:

    I’ll see your Amen, and I’ll raise you a Hallelujah.

  4. Gail says:

    You never know what those words you prayed for, will do to his soul! May they grow and lead to his salvation! One day you may meet him again, in Heaven!

  5. Jan Clough says:

    When l think of the starved snarling lions waiting for the iron gates of the arena to be opened so they can pounce ripping to shreds their defenceless prey. When l think of roads to Roman celebrations lit up with human torches. When l think of the dark cold damp prison cells were rotting bodies were ( and still are ) forgotten, who am l, so inadequate and pathetic lacking in courage, that He the perfect sinless Saviour should die for me.
    Thank God for his amazing grace that He should love me and fill me with His awesome Holy Spirit that in times of cowardliness and inadequacy He is there beside me urging me on.
    Out of little acorns mighty oak trees grow.
    Give me boldness Lord in these last days to sow your acorns of salvation Amen!

  6. Wenda says:

    AMEN!!!
    Thank you for challenging us with what you’re living out.
    “… Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.”
    Luke 9:24
    “And they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even on to death” Rev.12:11

  7. Pam Glover says:

    Lori, I admire your ability to know what to say. Does it come from practice?

    Peace Like a River is my favorite novel. I cry when I read the scene of peoples from all times and places heading for the heavenly city.

  8. Harris says:

    Bold Christian indeed! To this coffee mate, Scottish theologian Andrew Purves would very well say, “May the Holy Spirit work a little mischief in ye.” I am quite sure your coffee mate has never met a Christian who admitted to Biblical contradictions. He’ll think on this encounter!

  9. Keri Spradley says:

    Beautifully expressed.
    Hard truth.

  10. Lori L says:

    Lori. God used you. Your boldness to defend the Bible to a lost soul reminds me to be ready to give an answer. The darkness hates the light.
    Thanks for sharing your experience at the coffee shop. Lori L 🖊📖

  11. Nona says:

    Lori, every time I get an email form you, I know there will be that moment to say “yes, that’s true, Lori.”

    May the LORD bless you and keep you, precious child of GOD!