Monday, April 20, 2009

Just my cup of tea

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others. – 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

I’ve been a tea drinker since I was a young girl, and over the years, I’ve learned how to make the perfect cup of tea. Most simply, pour boiling water over a teabag in a cup or a teapot, cover, and let it steep for three to five minutes.

The water must be boiling to get the full flavor of the tea—hot water draws out the flavor faster. The hotter, the better. You can make a decent tea with cold or lukewarm water—it just takes longer. Like sun tea, which is made by placing a few teabags in a jar or jug of water—the container should be transparent glass—and setting it in the sun for a few hours.

When the tea’s brewed, remove the teabag and, if you choose, add sweetener and milk. I prefer French Vanilla creamer. Unless it’s herbal tea. That I drink as is.

No matter what kind of tea you prefer, tea is good for you. Tea’s benefits, studies have shown, go from A to Z: it helps to slow down the aging process, lower blood pressure, beat bacteria and regenerate cells. It assists the body in preventing cancer, aids your immune system, fights cavities and reduces plaque, aids digestion, prevents diabetes, keeps you hydrated, lowers stress hormone levels, and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Not to worry about caffeine. At 40 mg. per cup, tea has less than half the amount of caffeine than coffee, which has 85 mg. Most herbal teas have none.

A cup of tea in mid-afternoon both relaxes me and gives me a boost.

So what does this have to do with God? After all, this is a “religious” column, right?

Simple: Each of us is a cup of tea to be served to a stressed-out world that’s dying of thirst.

The teabag is the gift you’ve received from God. Our God-given gifts—and we all have them—aren’t meant to pad our own pocketbooks and feather our own nests. Our diverse gifts, like the countless types and flavors of tea, are to be used to serve others.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us . . . let him use it (his gift) in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouragement, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8 NIV).

The boiling water represents the troubles of life. We’ve all been in hot water more times than we care to think about. Just like hot water draws out the flavor of the teabag, so the troubles of life draw out the flavor of our gift. The hotter, the better. Our trials make us more compassionate, more humble, and like the shadows in a painting, give us more depth. Our deepest pain and disappointment is often where God calls us to serve. Don’t waste the pain.

“[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV).

We are commanded to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and to love one another. Love, after all, is greatest commandment. Want to get your mind off your problems? Help someone else.

Who in your world needs a cup of inspiration, a spoonful of encouragement, and a generous outpouring of the milk of God’s love?

Don’t hesitate. Get that teabag out.

Dear God, may the teabag You’ve given me flavor the teapot I find myself in. When my troubles make me want to spout off, help me to put a lid on it, let it brew, and then pour myself into the cup of another’s needs. Amen.

Special-Tea: 1 Peter 4:8–11

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Michelle. And I'm grateful that you have chosen to share your gifts with those around you. You teach us by word and example.