I walk into the café and pay for an almond latte. When it's ready, I look for an empty seat and pick a small table by the window. The chair across from me is empty. I hadn't made plans with anyone this afternoon. Instead, I'd made plans with The One.
Welcome to a date with Jesus.
To those around me, for the next hour and a half or so, the chair across from me will remain empty. But I know better. In that chair sits my Savior. He's always around, of course, but setting aside time with Him is one of my favorite things to do.
On most of these dates with Jesus, I simply read a passage and take notes. I pray beforehand, and ask that God opens my heart to pay attention to what I need to hear. I sometimes flip through the Bible and skim passages until one catches my eye or draws me in.
Other times, I just have a passage come to mind; somehow it always ends up being what I need. If I'm looking for something specific, I pull out my laptop and search for a devotional or study on the topic I want to read about.
I read, I write, I highlight and make arrows, and most importantly, I talk to Jesus. After all, that's what I'm here for. I usually slide my phone into my purse or tuck it into my backpack. After all, what kind of a date would I be if I texted or checked social media the whole time? He deserves my full attention.
Sometimes my boyfriend will text me before I begin, but I tell him I'm on a date. And he says OK. He doesn't mind or find it odd; he knows what it means: I'm spending time with the Creator. I tell Him about my day, my week, my fears, hopes and guilt. He hears about the kids I babysit, school, my family, and my love life and everything in between.
With anyone else, I would worry that I am too chatty and bothersome. But I know Jesus doesn't mind. I know He loves to listen to everything I have to say. How cool is it that the God who can speak light into existence also cares about how my day went?!
It might not always be out loud, but trust me: I'm talking His ear off. Sometimes I get strange looks from people around me. I'm sure it must look weird; a girl sitting alone and smiling as she silently colors and draws arrows and notes all over the pages of a book.
Little do they know, I'm deep in conversation with the same God who crafted galaxies and sculpted mountains, and I'm having coffee with the Savior who humbly stretched out His arms to allow nails to pierce his hands for my mistakes.
If you need something to strengthen your relationship with Jesus, maybe you need to take some time with Him. It doesn't have to be at a coffee shop. I just happen to be a college caffeine addict who loves a good almond latte (thanks, lactose intolerance).
Maybe the park or a quiet library is more your thing. Go wherever you're comfortable. I started doing Bible dates with Jesus because I knew I needed to spend more time praying and digging into the Word. It has helped me tremendously, and I'd suggest it to anyone who's feeling disconnected from Christ.
I have a hard time focusing on things, sometimes, but setting aside time for a specific purpose has allowed me to grow and better my relationship with Jesus. All you need is a Bible and an open mind.
Often, I go into the coffee shop filled with stress, worry, sin, shame and all kinds of ugly things. By the time I leave, those things are gone and replaced by the beauty of peace and joy. The stresses seem smaller to me, the guilt is gone. It's amazing what just a couple hours with God will do.
I pack up to leave, and say a prayer of thanks. I put my coffee cup in the dirty dishes bin and walk out the door, hand in hand with the Lord.