I have always liked coffee. I remember staying, as a little girl, with my Granny and “Grandan” on their Rocky Mountain ranch in Colorado, and the delight of drinking coffee with the important adults in the “house” kitchen while the hands prepared in the bunkhouse for the day’s work. Of course my portion was limited and supplemented with rich cream from Brown Cow in the barn and pure, white sugar that Granny spooned in for me. Mmmmm.
One day, while Granny was quilting with some ladies from church, she bestowed upon me a great pleasure: I could pour a full cup of coffee and fix it up myself! I was to drink the cup of Joe gratefully and not to ask for another. I was so excited that I almost got tangled up in my skinny legs on the way to the big ranch kitchen. There on the stove was the coffee pot filled with steaming, black brew, just waiting for me. A deep gurgle emitted from its core as it drew the water up the tube and it bubbled out over the rich grounds in the metal basket. In just moments I would enjoy my first full cup of creamy, sweet coffee.
When the coffee had finished percolating, I carefully managed the pot over my waiting cup, my little arms weak against the weight of the filled pot. I did not spill a drop. Saving just enough room in my cup for some of Brown Cow’s cream, I went to the refrigerator and retrieved the small ladle from atop the cloth that Granny had draped over the gallon jar to collect the cream as it separated from the milk. One, two, three little ladles of cream went into my cup. Then I went to get sugar from the sugar bowl, but it was in the quilting room with the busily working ladies, so I chose to get my sugar from the canister on the counter. I carefully pulled the canister toward myself and peered in at the mountain of white crystals. One, two, three nice spoons full of sparkling crystals went into my cup; I stirred ever so carefully so as not to let any of my precious coffee slosh over the rim. I could almost taste it already.
Eager to enjoy my first whole cup of coffee, I carefully pulled the cup to the edge of the counter and reached forward with my lips to slurp in my first, delicious swallow. (You have to slurp hot coffee to keep from burning your lips, you know.) UGH! Something was terribly wrong with my coffee! Suspecting the cup for some reason, I spun it around to look at its backside. My cup was innocent. But that canister was as guilty as a cat with a tail hanging out of its mouth. How was I to know that “S” meant salt and not sugar?!
Of course my coffee was ruined, and I could not ask for another. Granny had plainly told me that one was the limit. With great remorse I poured the priceless liquid down the drain of the big white sink and silently went out the door to share my dreadful story with Blackie, the barn dog, who listened with compassion and gave me a few comforting licks. Brown Cow turned her big head so that she could see me while I cried out my sorrow and she chewed her cud. Poor little thing that I was, I cried myself to sleep there in the hay next to Blackie.
Awaking later, I looked at faithful Blackie through puffy eyes and proclaimed, “For the rest of my life, I am always going to make sure the sugar is the sugar before I put it into my coffee!”
Today, more years after that first doomed cup than I will specify, I enjoy daily a sweet, creamy cup of coffee while I read the Word and seek the Lord’s direction and blessing for my day. Today’s world seems more complicated than the simple, work-a-day atmosphere on the ranch in the Rockies. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun, but the trickery of the evil one is shrouded in what seems to be right but isn’t righteous at all. In those moments at the dawn of the day, I seek my Father’s face and ask Him for discernment as I “test the spirits” (I John 4:1, NIV). I pray for myself--and for my children, my husband, and my friends--that we will wash our minds with the Word and not fall prey to “the devil’s schemes” or the “vain philosophy” of this world (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 2:8, NIV). And I pray that we will be true to our faith, as we walk the gauntlet of this life, casting a discerning eye on the offerings of the day and making sure that “the sugar is the sugar” before we put it into our coffee.
Have you checked your sugar lately? May the Lord bless you as you take today’s sips.
Editor's note: Gwendolyn Amador is the wife of NAS Patuxent River Chaplain Lt. Kenneth Amador.