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Leftovers. Extra-large sweatshirt. TV tray. Cross-legged on couch. Movie.

That’s my definition of a Friday night – at least this Friday night. Catching myself yawning during first period pledges and prayer this morning, I sought relief in the depths of two white styrofoam cups full of teacher sludge coffee. By fifth period, I was talking so fast that I am not sure how my poor students kept up. My, my, but the civilizations of Africa sure did fly by at a rapid-fire rate today!

Jitteriness aside, it was a good day. A day that I stopped to listen. Stopped to enjoy. Stopped to worship. While blackness yet hung in the dawn sky and the large hands of my classroom clock had not yet reached the 7 a.m. mark, I began working on curriculum alignment, a project that keeps me busy much of the time. Simultaneously, a childhood friend’s rough recordings of soul-searching, soul-resonating music played from my laptop’s speakers, filling the air with sweet surrender. Worshipping, my heart and mind prepared to give thanks for whatever might come during the chaos that characterizes Fridays in middle school.

The afternoon was perhaps highlighted by my first Christmas season Starbucks’ purchase – a skinny DECAF Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino – and a brief escape from the school building with a fellow teacher and coffee lover. Still sipping the wintry goodness, I found myself beginning to unwind. Feeling the pull of the weekend to come. Taking a deep breath. Exhaling.

Cold oxygen pounding through my lungs, I later logged a brief run after the final school dismissal bell. Ipod in hand, the lyrics of worship music once again provided succor to my exhausted heart and body. As I pondered the melting snow and ice encrusted sidewalk, I gave thanks, as I do now.

Thanks for strength. Thanks for joy. Thanks for friends. Thanks for caffeine-induced energy. Thanks for Friday nights.

But, as I lean back against brown couch cushions, it’s not really about me. At least it shouldn’t be. I don’t want it to be.

It’s about Christ. It’s about His purpose in bringing us all at times into desert seasons where we feel compelled to exist on pure adrenaline and sludge coffee. It’s in those times that He chooses to not only carry us through, but allows us to crave His Spirit, crave His Joy, crave His Power. If He didn’t let us realize how thirsty we are, then how would we ever learn to drink deeply of His Living Water?

I know that I have often been too stiff-necked and hard-hearted in the past to pay much attention to His gentle whispers, His soft beckoning to come and drink. Bone weariness must often precede the heart transformation that Christ knows is needed before I choose to be conformed more to His Image. Before I choose to give thanks for all things. Before I truly identify with the Apostle Paul’s words: “For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12). It is only after this proclamation that Paul adds in vs. 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I am meditating on this message . . . allowing the meaning of the invitation to “come and die” to penetrate my soul. It is only in Christ’s death that I am offered life. It is only in my death that I receive life. A mystery, a contradiction, a promise.

Well, it is Friday night, and I am barely able to move, much less communicate clearly. I am, however, still musing. Amazed at the peace found in the communion of thanksgiving. Amazed at the steadfastness of dear friends. Amazed that Starbucks is already offering Christmas flavors in deep red cups. Amazed that we all made it. We made it to Friday.

Good night.

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