“Just a Cup of Coffee, Please!”
The news media often calls attention to the
large number of homeless and hungry people
in our nation’s big cities. The scenes of
people sleeping on benches, huddling in
cardboard boxes, or looking through garbage cans
for food are pitiful and troubling. While many
of these individuals have ended up on the
street through misfortunes beyond their
control, even sadder are the cases who are there
largely by choice.
As I prayed and thought about this
problem, it occurred to me that while not homeless
and destitute, most of us, in a spiritual sense,
have gotten by with just a cup of coffee and a
morsel of bread when we could have been
feasting on God’s plentiful banquet of spiritual
manna. As the Apostle James observes, Ye
have not, because ye ask not (James 4:2).
My husband, Jack, and I have a favorite
little “home cookin'” cafe we often visit when
it’s just the two of us. It’s not fancy at all, but
it’s a cozy, comfortable place where we can
relax — and the food is good. We go there
often enough that we know most of the
waitresses and many of the regular customers.
For weeks we noticed that a certain man
was almost always in the cafe, sitting at the
counter. He looked as if he might be
homeless, usually dressed in worn, slightly shabby
clothes which probably hadn’t been laundered
in weeks. He was always alone — never did
we see him with a friend or ever having a
conversation with others at the counter. His
countenance was drawn and sad, and one could
sense that he had known much sorrow in his
lifetime. The waitresses told us he ate only
once a day — the rest of the time he just drank
coffee…”buy one cup and the refills are free.”
Jack and I felt terribly sorry for this man.
One night as we were having a light dinner,
we looked over at him sitting alone at the
counter, nursing his coffee cup, and it made us
sad. My hubby called a waitress over and
said, “Give that man the best dinner in the
house and bring me the bill. Let him pick out
anything on the menu and tell him a friend has
picked up the tab.”
“No, Dr. Van Impe, you don’t need to do
that,” said the waitress.
“But I want to,” he answered. “He looks
like he needs a good meal, and I’d just like to
help him a little.”
“You don’t understand,” she said. “That is
Mr. _____________” (and she named a very well-known
and wealthy local family). “His father
owned much of the land that is now the City
of Troy — he’s the heir to millions!”
“But he looks so underprivileged!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, I know,” said the waitress, “but he’s
really a multimillionaire. He lives like a
pauper by choice.”
I haven’t seen that poor, sad man lately,
but recently I’ve been thinking about his situation.
Could it be that many Christians are
living like spiritual paupers when they could be
enjoying God’s manifest blessings every day
of their lives? Are they settling for just a cup
of coffee when they could be feasting at the
Lord’s banquet table?
As we face the future, are we anxious
about what lies ahead? Will it be a time of
happiness and blessing…or endless loneliness
Change your wardrobe
The old man in the cafe was dressed in
worn, shabby clothes. Yet he could have been
wearing the finest suit from the best tailor in town.
What are you wearing? The Prophet Isaiah
said, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul
shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed
me with the garments of salvation, he hath
covered me with the robe of righteousness, as
a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments,
and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels
Clothe yourself in the wardrobe God has
provided for you. Get dressed in His
rightousness and see what a change His garments
will make in your whole outlook on life.
You’ll discover a new awareness of God as
your Sustainer and Protector. You’ll stand
taller and walk in trust and confidence.
So resolve to stop dressing like the world
and get clothed in.His righteousness.
Put sadness aside
The old man in the cafe looked so sad, as
if the weight of the world was on his
shoulders. Yes, from a worldly perspective, he had
everything. He was from a prominent family,
with every possible financial advantage at his
disposal. If money could buy happiness, he
could have had it all.
Christianity is the most joyful of all the
world’s religions. Yet we often manage to
make it appear the most sad and mournful by
our actions and our countenance. Mark Twain
once had his famous character, Huck Finn,
wondering if the mule in the barn had “got
religion” because of its long face!
The psalmist exults, Thou hast put
gladness in my heart. For he satisfieth the longing
soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness
(Psalm 4:7; 107:9).
I think we sometimes develop a bad habit
of letting our faces reflect the care and
confusion of the world around us instead of the joy
and peace of the Lord welling up within us.
If we have full access to God’s goodness,
gladness, and blessedness, shouldn’t our faces
As Christians, our future is as bright as the
promises of God. And the Word of God is
filled with wonderful promises. Some of my
favorites include Christ’s promise: Lo, I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world
(Matthew 28:20) and also God’s assurance
that as thy days, so shall thy strength be
If we believe God, we have something to
Be a friend
In all the times we observed the old man
in the cafe, Jack and I never saw him with
a friend…or ever being friendly with those
around him. While others had pleasant
conversations and shared personal things with
each other, the old man sat alone, without a
friend. How sad.
But while true friendship is measured by
more than “hellos” and conversations, some
people have no friends because they will let
no one get close to them.
As the writer of Proverbs observes, A man
that hath friends must show himself friendly:
and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a
brother (Proverbs 18:24).
One must be a friend to others to have
friends who will share fellowship and
companionship in return. And this is an important
part of life. But even if earthly friends do fail
in times of trouble, we can be secure in knowing
that we can have a friend who will stick
closer than a brother, in good times and bad.
We know we can count on Him because
He has said, I will never leave thee, nor
forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).
When we have such a Friend, why don’t
we rely on Him more? In the words of the
grand old gospel song, “What a Friend We
Have in Jesus,”
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the old man in
the cafe, scrimping by on one meal a day,
when he could have had anything on the
menu, anytime he wanted it. Yet he’d order
“Just a cup of coffee, please” and ask for free
refills. How tragic to see a multimillionaire
But how much more tragic to have the
riches of heaven at our disposal and go
through life starving ourselves spiritually! Do
you have a Bible? Of course, you do. Are
you feasting daily on the abundant nourish-
ment found there…or do you hurriedly pull out
a single scripture card and glance at it before
you dash out into the day?
Compare your biblical diet with
Jeremiah’s. He said, Thy words were found, and I
did eat them; and thy word was unto me the
joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am
called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts
Don’t settle for just a cup of coffee — eat
heartily — even as the Apostle Peter
admonished us to do in 1 Peter 2:2, stating: As
newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the
word, that ye may grow thereby. The psalmist
concurs, saying, O taste and see that the Lord
is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in
him (Psalm 34:8).
I heard the story of a man whose dream
was to go to America. For years he saved his
money to buy passage on a ship. Finally he
had just enough, with only a small amount left
He took part of the little money he had left
and bought some bread and cheese he could
take on board. By careful rationing, he
thought there would be just enough to last
through the voyage.
So he set sail, glad to finally be going to
the “promised land.” Other passengers were
festive and happy, going into the ship’s dining
room to eat wonderful meals, and strolling
about the decks, laughing and having
The man would go to his little cabin at
mealtime and eat stale bread and hard cheese.
But he had miscalculated the length of the
voyage, and a few days before the ship was to
arrive in New York harbor, he ran out of food.
He drank water and did without for a day or
so. Then he got so hungry he didn’t think he
could last. So he scraped together all the
money he had left — several coins — and went to a
steward in the dining room.
“Excuse me, please,” he said. “Is this
enough money to buy just a little bit to eat?
I’ve run out of food and I’m very hungry.”
The steward said, “Sir, you do not need to
pay extra to eat in the dining room. Your
meals were paid for in the price of your
I urge you to begin living up to your
privileges in God. Jesus Christ paid for them in the
price of your passage to heaven!
Blessing, gladness, satisfaction, goodness,
and all other spiritual pleasures are yours.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for
his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God