I quit coffee, at least for a season. It’s amazing what that wonderful dark stimulant will do when you stop drinking it “cold turkey”–give you a headache!
The withdrawals are mostly over for me. This is now my 5th day without it or much of any caffeine for that matter.
Yesterday it struck me how suddenly my physical longing for coffee came upon me. It wasn’t just the headache that reminded me that I needed coffee, but it was the desire for the taste of the four-shot Americano with cream in mouth. What really put this in perspective was when I opened my Bible to Psalm 63:
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
My soul thirsts for you;
My flesh faints for you,
As in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (NRSV)
It struck me that when I virtually ignore God for a day, neglecting prayer, the Scriptures, and reminding myself of the Gospel, I barely miss him, but when I miss coffee for one day I feel its physical effects almost immediately. The craving for coffee is there almost instantaneously after I wake up, and after a few hours headache sets in.
This is not the same with God. At least for me.
Sure I get that feeling of “bummer I missed ‘devotions’ today”, but not this God-ache that the Psalmist is talking about. He describes this ache not just in a spiritual sense (“My soul thirsts for you”), but in a bodily one (“My flesh faints for you”). How I need the angst of the Psalmist for the living God more in my life.
He’s parched unless he meets with God. He’s physically weary and spiritually thirsty for Jesus. Notice the personal language—“you are my God”. Time with God, according to the Psalmist, is not a check off of the list of duties done for the day. He desires to possess God and to be with Him.
He is in a desert wilderness without any water. He needs water and he desires water to survive. And what he’s really saying is that life is utterly empty without God. Desires aren’t all that desirable and needs aren’t all that necessary without the living God. Without God life is living in a barren wilderness without water. God is the true Desire and great Need of the human heart.
I always need God, and I always need to desire God, at least I know that intellectually, but sometimes both of those are missing experientially. Not so with this Psalmist he knows his need and feels his desire for God.
Caffeine headaches are here ultimately to remind me not that I need a strong cup of coffee, but that I need God. The desire for the taste of a warm coffee with cream exists to say that the desire for God is much more satisfying.
No need to toot your own horn on what you’ve given up for God. That isn’t the point, nor is it my point here. I’m not trying to get you to quit coffee. Most likely you’ll see me sipping it again soon. After all, bailing on coffee or anything else could just be “false humility” (Colossians 2:23) and a substitute for the gospel. The gospel is not about “don’t” it’s about “done”—what Jesus has done for you.
The point is that every piece of life is meant to be done for the glory of God and to remind you that He is glorious—much more so than a cup of coffee. When you forsake whatever it is for a season sometimes you learn that the ache for _____ was never meant to be filled with _____ but was meant to be filled with God.
Coffee headaches are meant to make you ache for God.