by Dusty White, guest blogger and honorary Coram Deo culture-shaper
live from San Francisco
Today I hurdled a few puddles on my way into Peet’s and ordered my wife and me two caramel lattes.
Amy the barista was in a good mood today. It’s been raining most of the day here in the bay area so to find Amy in a good mood caught me a little off guard. She’s one of those girls that you just never know how to consistently predict. In other words, you have to “feel it out a little bit,” and based on your conclusion, you make your best attempt at trying to make her smile. Sometimes you have to drag the smile out of her—even if it involves a little bit of cheesy remark. I’m sure you know her type.
Amy finally asked me the question. “Dusty, do you work? You’re always in here. You’re always reading books or working on your laptop or something.”
I’ve been praying for Amy’s soul for the past few months so this was my prime opportunity for telling her that my wife and I care about her in a sincere way. After praying one of those quick, dependent-on-the-Spirit type prayers, I responded: “I work with college students in the bay area so I basically get to work in a lot of cool places whenever I want.”
“That’s right—I remember that,” she said, “but how do you get paid?” She remembered something that I didn’t—a previous conversation about working with college folks. She also knows that everyone needs to get paid and couldn’t figure out how hanging out with college people supported my mini-van payment and my frequent caramel lattes.
“My church pays me to do it,” I replied.
The “church comment” usually makes people bottle up as they start recalling all of their spiritual experiences. Or else they say something like “that’s neat.” Amy’s response was rare and honest and she carried a sense of desperation in her tone. She said, “Oh, so you work for a church? So I should be crying and bitching to you about all of my life problems.”
The conversation couldn’t have been going any better. Remember, all I’m doing is ordering two caramel lattes, one decaf with soy. My wife is into soy sometimes—I think it was the rain today, or maybe she’s pregnant. Who knows?
I said, “Yeah, we could talk about all of your life problems sometime.”
Amy went on—“So you counsel people or what?” She can be kind of abrasive.
I thought about it for about 1.5 seconds and said, “Yeah, mostly—but I do a lot of Bible teaching and stuff as well.” For some reason when you throw in the “and stuff” it makes the awkwardness go down a little bit.
“Oh…sweet,” Amy said. She meant the “sweet” that is like the “cool sweet.” You know.
There was a line behind me so I moved toward the pick-up area and started talking to Mark as he brewed up my lattes. As I was watching him keep the regular separate from the decaf soy I couldn’t help but praise God in the back of my mind for what had just happened. The short conversation that I just had with Amy was huge headway and hope for what I’ve been praying about.
Amy didn’t fall to the tile floor and start repenting and accepting Christ into her life, nor was I attempting to get her to do that sort of thing, but I can see God gaining ground. Heaven is fighting for her soul. God wants her to be a woman folded into the kingdom kind of life. Satan hates it. Satan hates me having intentional conversations at Peet’s. Evil is lurking, enticing, and winning—but I know that Amy knows that there has to be more. I could see it brewing in her head today. I could sense it in her voice. She wants Jesus, but she just doesn’t know what she wants.
So why should you care about this experience that I had today? God gained some ground amidst my coffee shop trip this afternoon. I’m convinced that God gains ground with lost souls wandering aimlessly through people like you and me who simply order coffee with the intentional love of Christ. In the long run it is going to take more than coffee orders, but I want more conversations like that. More conversations that end up getting God his people back.