My mom forwarded me this story, and I think it’s worth sharing:
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and in life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups — porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal. Some were plain, some expensive, and some exquisite. He told them to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
“If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, perhaps that is the source of your problems and your stress.
Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases, it is simply more expensive and, in some cases, even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was the coffee, not the cup. But you consciously went for the best cups… and then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
Now consider this: Life is the coffee. The jobs, the money, and the position we have in society are the cups. They are only tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define or change the quality of Life we live. But sometimes, by concentrating too much on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.”
I think of this story and wonder how often I have either been too consumed by or too apathetic of what cup I choose. Of course, it is necessary to remember to focus on the coffee and not the cup. I know I have been reminded of that my whole life. But reading this story made me think in a different way about my cup. It is so vitally important that we choose one — how else can you drink coffee? It is so easy to be convicted that nothing here really matters: no career, no job, no money, no fame, no esteem can compare to our goals to be Christ to others, to live faithfully, and grow in holiness. We KNOW that. We are told that constantly. But we cannot — I cannot — forget that a cup is still the necessary means to living life. Pursuing work, hobbies, and relationships are the means to gaining that life and enjoying it more fully. It’s a means to gaining the ultimate gift of Life when we won’t need a “cup” anymore!
What I need to remember is that my cup will change, over time. Instead of wanting to choose my own cup, I desire God to choose it and present it to me. This is the right one for you, right now. It is the perfect one, because I chose it. And when you finish this cup of coffee, I will bring you another. The vessel will change, but my Gift of life will not. I am constant, and I will provide.
If I can remember that, and trust more lovingly… then I will refrain from reaching out and “helping myself.” I don’t always choose wisely, afterall. I will wait patiently until God provides, and know that while my cup may seem plastic and flimsy now, the next might be sturdy and fit perfectly into my hand. God’s cupboard is endless. The cups are unfathomable. We will never know when the one that seems old, dirty, chipped, and faded is a special favorite — a cup dear to Our Father’s heart. He is the host, and He has invited us to His banquet. He will give us what we need, in the ways we need to receive it. Lord, give me the humility to not only accept the cup that you offer, but to drain it of every last drop before you provide another.