I have breakfast most mornings in a local coffee shop. A long, narrow historic building on the corner of Main Street, the café has a long counter, several tables lined up on a scuffed wooden floor, painted two-story-high tin ceiling, big glass jars full of glossy coffee beans, and the best bagels in town (cooked on a grill, smothered in real butter). Anna has my Americano ready in my regular mug by the time I get to the counter. I usually sit near the back, wedged in a corner at a small table with my laptop (or Bible study book, or journal, or a friend). I’ve been doing this long enough and routinely enough that people know where to find me any given weekday between 8:15 and 9:30. At least a couple days a week, one of my girlfriends will show up and plop down across from me, coffee (or mocha or iced chai) in hand. But whether or not someone shares my table, I’ve noticed that nearly every day three or four different people stop to ask what I’m writing, comment on my Facebook status from that morning, show me pictures of a daughter at prom or discuss their latest run or vent or ask advice or laugh and tell stories or even hold hands and pray. I know them by name, or at least by sight. I have some idea where they work or what they do or if (and where) they attend church or if this is their normal day to come in (and where they normally sit). I know who’s working on a sermon, and who’s doing schoolwork, and who hangs out together on weekends. I’m comfortable there, in “my” coffee shop. It feels like home. I know these people.
But do I really? Settling in to pray the other morning, I found myself feeling uncomfortable. The words were stilted, the conversation seemed awkward, and I was self-conscious. I pray, and I study, but my life has been out of control for several weeks and I haven’t given God the time He deserves. I felt like I’d been away for so long that I didn’t remember how to be with Him. At that moment, God brought to my mind these relationships. They seem real, and they are in fact genuine friendships with really great people. But do we know how to go deep? Small talk is fine, and easy, in a large room full of people. But what would be it be like if there were just two of us, sitting alone in a room, trying to express our most private thoughts? It hit me that I’ve become guilty of letting my relationship with the Lord become superficial. I’ve been doing the social thing, talking about Him, saying hi when I happen to bump into Him — but claiming He’s my dearest friend. He has been that before, and He is willing to be that again — when I’m ready to sit down with Him and close out everyone else. When I’m willing to go deep, expose my emotions, and confess my secrets. When I want to spend time getting to know Him again, not in a public way, not in the way everyone else knows Him, but in my own way. When I want to be a true friend, and not just an acquaintance. When I’m ready to drop the small talk and meet God Almighty face to face. He’s already waiting at my favorite table. All I have to do is sit down.