1 John 4:19 (New International Version)
“We love because he first loved us.”
It was Friday night. I felt quite tired and frankly a little pissed off. It had been one of those extremely annoying days; everything hadn’t gone according to plan. I had had an argument with my mom earlier in the day which spilled over into miniscule disputes with my brothers and to cap it off, one of my closest friends had just posted a video on Facebook mocking the fact that I was engaged to a woman who is not black (I can’t even start on that issue now, so I’ll leave it for later). Needless to say, it was shaping up to end as a very bad day. Licking my wounds, I contemplated giving coffee stall a miss. As I pulled out my phone to send the text that would notify Tom Woody – the president – of my absence, I felt a nagging tug in my heart. Thus began the struggle within me between my lazy disgruntled side and that element that gives me the proclivity to do good: to go or not to go?
Let me take you back a little bit, context always helps with understanding. Mid January 2005, I had just celebrated my 19th birthday the previous weekend and was still in party mode. Wednesday night ‘Flirt’ at the academy provided the best opportunity to satisfy that need to dance till my feet ached. I also yearned for a strong alcoholic beverage to assist in my goal of absolute intoxication before my Thursday morning exam (got to love student life). The night was successful, ergo I was drunk when I left the academy. The table set up outside provided me the perfect opportunity to argue and show my intellect. Having been raised a Christian and read most of the bible, I was aware of enough of the Christian claim to needlessly argue against it. In hindsight I realize, it was never against the Christian that I argued but rather against the love that God showered me with, even when each of my actions contradicted his upright statutes. In all my wisdom, I spent most of that night arguing with two guys – Sam and Tim. I cannot recall the discussion, neither can I ascertain whether I made sense with what I said. What I do know is this: that night something strange happened. I found myself in my room, lying in the fetal position (hugging my knees), in tears. For the first time in many years, I saw myself for who I truly was and cried; not because I was terrible, but because that I couldn’t understand why God – who saw me as I saw myself, bare – still loved me. The coffee I had had, served as the beginning of the journey that I’m currently on.
So as you can see, this night – four years on, I have a soft place in my heart for coffee stall. The nagging feeling within me constantly pushes me toward the duty that my selfish side negates.
“Had someone else been disobedient to their greater conscience, my fate might have been much worse.” I thought, and with it made my decision to turn up.
It was cold: adding to the bad day I was having. I realized on the bus journey toward Uxbridge that I had left my gloves back in my room and lamented within. The only plus I could think of was the thought of spending some time with my fiance, who was still making her way back from her friends in Cambridgeshire (I hadn’t seen her in two days). I had timed my journey so that I would walk into the meeting house just as the prayers were concluding (it had been a bad day, the last thing I wanted to do was to have to talk to God about it). It was five minutes to midnight when I tiptoed in, smiling smugly within in the knowledge of my ‘slipping underneath the radar’.
“…and help us father! To have the same compassion that you have for us, the same love that you showed on that cross, and that same passion that kept you hanging there: dying willingly – even in the knowledge of our constant disobedience. Such is your love LORD! That none deserves it, but you still give it… ” Someone prayed.
His words pierced my decadence and reduced me to tears. In that moment, I remembered that it was not of my doing that I had become the person I am. I was loved and not needed, gifted and not rewarded, and touched when I should have been cast away. The rest of the prayers swam past me as, in silence, I put my day before God. It was with a smile and warm heart that I carried the last table, a thermos full of hot water, and a copy of marks Gospel on the way out. Loving because He had first loved me.
© Denis Adide 2009
Every Friday night, the Christian union – of whom I am a part – set up a table outside the academy and serve the students leaving the union bar and club their choice of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. It provides an opportunity for us young Christians to reach out to our peers with the message of God’s love through Christ. This initiative has been a tradition and though the days have changed; whenever the union bar was active during term time, there would always be a table with a determined few serving drinks and engaging in conversations with whoever was willing to stop. Message me if you have any queries.