Michael Gates Gill had it all by his fifties: a mansion in the suburbs, a wife and loving children, a six-figure salary, and an Ivy League education. Within a few years, he lost his job, got divorced, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With no money or health insurance, he got a job at Starbucks.
While walking up the steep subway stairs toward the cloudy March light, I saw ahead, almost level with my eyes, the curious sight of a pair of Lobb shoes, the most expensive men’s shoes in the world. I was shocked out of my zombie traveling zone. Lobb shoes are easy to spot. They give off a kind of inner light; the leather seems to shine like burnished gold. And the owners, inevitably, keep them polished to a high gloss. To get a pair, you have to travel to London and have Lobb take a mold of your feet. The shoes are then made to fit your unique measurements. Each pair costs several thousand dollars.
My eyes traveled from the shoes, up the torso, bound tightly in a double-breasted blue suit with bold, chalk stripes that spoke of being handmade by a London tailor. Such a suit would cost even more than the shoes. Who would spend so many thousands on his personal appearance and yet ride the subway? Such shoes and suit usually were only found in a limo or at least a taxi.
As this overdressed man emerged with me into the dark gloom of the afternoon, I realized there was something about his awkward gait that I recognized. He moved with the exact same pugnacious arrogance of a classmate of mine at Berkley and Yale who was known to be incredibly rich and incredibly cheap: Everett Larkin Fallowes was one who would spend thousands on himself while riding the subway to save a few bucks on a tip for a taxi driver. He was notorious for never tipping anyone. He had actually gotten in a fight once with a taxi driver, and barely made it away with his life.
A year ago, I might have eagerly sought his company. Everett (as he asked his friends to call him) was a person who exemplified the highest status of my formerly secure past. Before my job at Starbucks, I would have reached out to him in my insecurity as a needed reminder of my old life. Yet today, of all days, I no longer needed to visit the supposedly secure world I had left.
I passed Everett to get inside my store. I had found that several former acquaintances did not recognize me if they happened to come into my West Side store, which was rare. With my black cap and green apron, I was virtually invisible to them. I had my Starbucks hat on now, and Everett Larkin Fallowes did not give me a second glance. As I brushed past him, I had the sensation that I was not just moving around him, but was moving beyond him, as I had already moved beyond other remnants of my past, more arrogant self.
For this reason, I bow my knees before the father…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Being rooted and grounded in love
He must become greater; I must become less.
- Why do you think it is often important for us to be depleted before we can experience God’s fullness?
- What parts of your life might God need to crack so that there would be room for Christ to dwell? Whats parts of your life do you need to move beyond?
- What things did you used to value that now no longer seem appealing?
- When was a time that God was “able to do far more abundantly than all that you ask or think?” When was a time that you experienced the “fullness of God?”
- Where would praying John 3:30 radically reorient your priorities?