Coffee And A Spoonful Of Conviction

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Over eight years have passed since we lived in California.  I wondered what might have happened to him, so I asked my husband if he had heard anything.  My husband’s family had known Danny’s when they were younger.  I never met him face to face, but I remembered seeing him pirouette (twirl) on and off the sidewalks in the neighboring town in California.  In big red letters, his t-shirt read, “Jesus loves you.”  And with hands held high he would proclaim boldly, “Jesus is faithful!  Jesus is faithful!”

I’m currently in CA visiting again.  One evening last week, I settled in at my favorite local coffee shop to write for the last hour they were open.  On the opposite end of the bench from where I sat, a man spoke to me, “Hey, how are you this evening?”

Halfheartedly I replied, “Fine, thanks.”  Then I continued what I was doing, trying to make it clear I had an agenda and was uninterested in idle chit-chat.

He went on enthusiastically, “It’s really nice weather out there, isn’t it?

I thought, “That’s a likely line.”  Smiling I said, “Yes it is” and went straight back to what I was doing.  I know, I know it wasn’t very nice, but I had a time limit.  I’m staying with my in-laws, who don’t have wireless internet, so I was hurrying to use the wireless in this coffee shop.  Besides, I didn’t want to encourage random conversation with a man I didn’t know.

Two young guys came in and sat down across from him.  Their meeting seemed planned.  The tall one was wearing a black shirt with skulls.  The friendly gentleman beside me had his Bible open and smiled as they joined him.  When they sat down, the tall one said, “I have a question for you.  What is a God?”

Now, they all three had my attention.  Anyone who knows me knows I want people to hear the truth about God.  I listened closely.  I wanted to hear the friendly guy’s answer.

He told them there are many gods (little g) but one true God (big G).  He explained how things in this world become the object of people’s worship and become little g’s—fame, money, jobs, people, food, self.  But there’s only one true God who says, “There shall be no other gods before me.”

He said, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one can come to the Father except through Him.”

With every question, He gave a detailed scriptural explanation.  I’ve never heard anyone teach God’s Word so boldly, with that clarity and confidence, without opening the Bible.  It was apparent, He knew God’s Word.  It was hidden in his heart.  Excitedly he spoke, “Jesus was in the beginning… Through Him all things were made that were made… ”

I sat on the edge of my seat.  I wanted to cheer him on!  I spoke up and said, “For whatever it’s worth, I can’t help but hear this conversation, and everything he’s telling you is the truth!”

They questioned, and he continued, “This world is filled with darkness…  Jesus is the light of the world…  We are to be light in the darkness, and Jesus helps us do that… God is a good God, and He wants all to come to repentance and life.  He made a way for us through Jesus.  We all have a choice to accept or reject Him.”

About thirty minutes into this evangelical question and answer, He began sharing from personal experience.  I overheard him say, “I’ve never had many friends.  At one time in my life, it really bothered me.  But over the years, I’ve learned as long as I have Jesus, I’m never alone.  I’m completely fulfilled.  He’s all I need.  He’s all any of us need.”

My heart-felt like it sank to my knees.  Here, I had sat down to write about my love for Jesus, yet I had snubbed this sweet guy who just needed someone to talk to.  How wrong was I?  It made me sick.  Meanwhile, those guys listened to every word he said.

He went on, “I danced for the San Francisco Ballet and traveled all over the world.  I got to see some amazing things.  But all the beauty and riches in the world don’t compare to knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him.”

“The San Francisco Ballet?  Could it be Danny?”  I wondered!

The guys apologetically had to leave.  He asked for their names so he could pray for them.  When they stood and began introducing themselves, I discovered they didn’t know each other at all.  No one had planned this meeting except God.

He turned to me after they left.  I had hardly written a thing.  He said, “Thank you.  You are an encourager.  I knew you were praying for me in your spirit as I was talking to those guys.  Will you please pray for them?”  He reached for my hand, “What’s your name?”

Shaking his hand, “My name is Rivera, and yours?”

He replied, “Daniel.  You know like in the lion’s den?”

I smiled, “Yes. I know Daniel.”

He said, “Humility is beautiful. You know, you are beautiful.”  Then what he said next penetrated my heart.  Jesus Himself may as well have been speaking in that moment.  He smiled and said, “You know Rivera, we can have the Bible memorized and can minister to people all day long, but if we don’t love, none of it means a thing.”  I knew this truth from 1 Corinthians 13, but I obviously needed to be reminded.   It’s so simple yet so easy to forget, isn’t it?

I smiled. “Daniel I agree with you.  Thank you for that truth.”  I silently prayed,  “Lord, I repent.  I did not extend love and grace toward Danny earlier.  Please forgive me!”

Then I asked, “How can I pray specifically for you Daniel?”

“Pray that I remain pure and steadfast.  Early in my walk with God, I messed up a lot.  Pray that I finish well.  I just want God to look at me and say ‘well done!’ Yes, just pray that I finish well.”

God used Danny, a misunderstood ballet dancer with few friends, to speak truth over me that night.  He did it in love, and I experienced church right there over my computer and coffee.  Daniel loved me through my unlovely, self-centered behavior.  He was being the church.

It’s what the church is called to do, genuinely love people like Jesus:  when they mess up, when they’re un-loveable, when they’re different, and even when we don’t necessarily understand them.

28 thoughts on “Coffee And A Spoonful Of Conviction

  1. lauriewhin says:

    I love, love, love this story! How I want to be like this young man, Daniel, and boldly share the Gospel with so many in this world. Usually, when I’m reading the Bible, I try to put myself into the characters in the stories, to think what they might be thinking and feeling. I was putting myself into Daniel’s thoughts as he saw you in the coffee shop. “Here is a nice looking lady with her nose buried in her computer. She is probably lost and needs to hear about Jesus.” And so he tried to engage you in conversation…
    A few weeks ago we had a sermon about just being more intentional, to see people who might be in need. I have been trying to be more intentional to reach out and touch people, even if I don’t have the opportunity to share the Gospel.
    But then, to hear just how he knew so well the Gospel message, and could answer every question. Truly, this is in my heart. Now I just need for what He has placed in my heart to pour out onto those who need His touch and healing.
    Thank you for your words that encourage me to walk more worthy of my calling!

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      I’m so thankful God chooses to use my words and thoughts to help other people in their journey with Him. It’s totally Him! I’m honored and humbled. He is amazing to speak at just the right time, through just the right vessle to say just what we need to hear, isn’t He? I love him so! Thank you for sharing! Praising Him:)

  2. Bethany Macklin says:

    I had a similar experience, minus the serendipity. I, too, was trying to write in a coffee shop with a limited time frame, when a gal settled in close to me and began a chatty conversation. When it became apparent she was going to talk–despite my determined efforts to remain aloof–I sat back and just listened to her. She was not a believer. Though it didn’t culminate in a come-to-Jesus moment, God allowed me to encourage her, plant a few seeds, and hopefully make her feel important and loved. Praise God He sees us, each of us, and goes out of His way to make us feel important and loved. Thanks for a great story. 🙂

  3. Rachel Hamrick says:

    Love this Rivera! I can totally relate to your story. It is truly humbling when God gets our attention this way. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Amy Alves says:

    Rivera, that was absolutely beautiful! To witness how God redeemed those moments… priceless! Walking in His grace with you on this glorious, near to end Summer’s day! ~ Blessings, Amy

  5. Sara Johnson says:

    Rivera, Your words brought me to tears…………. again. I messed up a date and just realized it a little earlier today. I have been beating myself up and basically having a pity/ worry party for myself. So silly. Reading this sent tears bc I realized how self centered my thoughts have been over this one situation and how I was not fully trusting God to care for me. He always has, why would I expect anything different ? It also gave me clarity for today. LOVE is always on my mind and I try very hard to “Be Love” to others. Daniel was the perfect example of that in your story. I want to be that kind of person. And he is right. You ARE and ENCOURAGEMENT.

  6. robin oliver says:

    Rivera, what a wonderful post, I just had a very similar situation this week while at the doctor’s office. Thank you for sharing it was such a blessing!

  7. Crissy Smothers says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Rivera! What a wonderful, physical illustration of God’s love and his realness in everything! So awesome!

  8. Veronica McMahon says:

    I just Love this, Rivera! It really spoke to my heart, mind and spirit. you and your writings are such a blessing..and I KNOW this was GODS message to me this morning. Have a Beautiful Day, Sweet Lady<3

  9. Natasha says:

    Wow! I read this while drinking my coffee and having breakfast with my 15 month old daughter. Your story is a great way to start our day!! Helps me to remember to set a loving example for my daughter of what Jesus did for us and that God is always in our hearts. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us!

  10. Lisa K says:

    You are such a beautiful writer. Thank you for encouraging me to be aware of the world around me amidst my own busyness! Did you confirm that it was the Danny from years ago?

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Thank you Lisa! I never asked him, but I knew in my heart. When I shared with my husband and his family, they were sure it was him. I found out later he frequents that coffee shop:) I knew it was no coincidence I had been thinking of him a few weeks prior:) God did that!:)

  11. Mary says:

    This is one of the most inspirational anecdotes I’ve read in quite awhile! No doubt, God had an agenda…and He carried it out with beauty and simplicity! Working through you, He will touch so many hearts, who will touch so many more…it gives me “chill bumps!” I’m reminded, too, that the most unlikely of circumstances can forever change our perspective of God, others and ourselves! May God continue to bless you on your journey!!!

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Thank you Mary. Yes. I didn’t expect that meeting with Danny, but God had it all planned to remind me what it looks like to the be the church:) And interestingly enough, God put him on my heart a few weeks ago to show me even more that He was in the middle of it!

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