Of Coffee and Zipfizz®
By: Kate Karman

A couple of weeks ago, I spent five days helping out with a play at a summer camp for first through third-grade kids. In five days I got a total of 17 hours of sleep. The real hardship came in the fact that my beloved Triple Grande Vanilla Non-fat Latte wasn’t anywhere near. So I survived on a cup or two of black coffee when the dining hall was open, and some chocolate and a very little Dr. Pepper when it wasn’t. And somehow, I lived through it all.

I’m not going to say there weren’t times when I could have used a boost in energy. I did miss unlimited access to coffee, and I fell asleep in the middle of the stage once. But it was good to be stretched, to go without the caffeine. And it gave me the chance to learn (or re-learn) an important lesson:

What God calls you to do, He will give you the strength to do.


This is the All-powerful God of the universe we’re talking about here. He made shadows move backwards and the sun stand still. He can give you the strength you need to do His work. The nerve-wracking part is that He will often give you just enough strength and no more. But then you have to stop and think about who God is again. This is the All-knowing God in question here. He knows how long a particular task or trial will last, and He knows exactly how much strength you need to get through it.

These things shouldn’t be new to us. But allow me a whimsical analogy by way of a refresher:

I survived camp on very little sleep and (comparatively) very little caffeine. Some of the guys I worked with also got very little sleep… but by the third day, they had discovered an energy drink called Zipfizz®. Now, Zipfizz® has two years’ worth of vitamin B-12. Kind of a freaky thought. The Zipfizz® did give them energy… too much energy, if you ask me. But they kept going back to it. I could always tell when Dan was running on Zipfizz®. Not that he normally ever sat still, but he was all over the place. As we choreographed and rehearsed sword fights, the extra energy from the Zipfizz® sent him nearly into orbit. “It’s OK,” he’d tell us, “I’ll have some more right before the kids get here!”

Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and Isaiah tells us to wait upon the Lord to renew our strength. How do we get this strength if it isn’t spending time with God, talking to Him, reading His words, meditating on His law and fellowshipping with His people? Like Dan and the Zipfizz®, we need to keep going back over and over again. We can’t expect one dose in the morning to get us through a tough day.

Since I steered clear of the Zipfizz®, I think of it more like filling up that coffee cup. How many times do I go back to the coffee machine when I’m in the middle of a deadline or wading through a tough project? How much more should I be taking my stresses, my writer’s block, my lack of inspiration, to God, casting my cares on Him and resting in His peace? Am I as addicted to the life-giving Word of God as I am to coffee?

He has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). He knows what you’re going through. Are you up to your ears in summer activities? Are you dreading the coming school year? Are you overwhelmed with curriculum choices and lesson plans? He’s with you all the way. He wants you to lean on Him and look to Him for strength.

This leads me to my favorite Bible picture: Peter walking on the water. As he kept his focus on his Lord, he was able to do something impossible. But the minute he got distracted by his surroundings, he started sinking. His only hope was to wrench his focus back to the right place and keep it there no matter how many waves threatened to pull him under.

I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at the “waves” around me and despaired. But something else I’ve been learning lately is that God is God of the Universe, and I am not. I need to let the stuff that’s out of my control go, because there’s nothing I can do about it. I need to present my requests to Him and then trust that He will do the best, even if that doesn’t end up looking like I think it should. That means that I need to put God in His proper place first and then view my surroundings with a right perspective.

So trust God and wait on Him for your strength. Just remember that next time you reach for your cup of coffee… and thank Him that He created caffeine, too.

© 2007 by Kate Karman


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