Terry and the Iced Tea
Robin Weidner, June 2008
"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11
Last Sunday, we had about 30 people at our house for breakfast and Sunday morning worship. To go with the waffles my husband was preparing, I made my usual peach mango iced tea. One of those visiting was Terry Bridgmon, who has visited our services on and off for the last couple of years.
After the wonderful breakfast and lively service, Terry asked if we could talk. He wanted me to explain how to make my iced tea. Usually, this would take minutes. But Terry has been blind from birth.
As we sat down to talk, it quickly became obvious that communicating verbally the steps I used to make tea was anything but simple. And since he wanted his tea to taste just like mine, that meant using the same measures of water, tea and ice. It also entailed a list of items he didn’t have and steps he wasn’t used to.
After twenty minutes of explaining, re-explaining, and allowing him to see (touch) everything involved, we still had a disconnect. I decided it would be best to explain it to Steve (who was taking him home afterwards), so he could supervise. I gave Terry my large glass, measuring cup that I use to make iced tea, as well as the tea bags he would need for the first pitcher.
Later that day, I had two long messages from Terry explaining in great deal every step he and Steve had taken. Their attempt had been unsuccessful. The tea didn’t taste right.
Now, iced tea may seem like a small thing, but to Terry it meant a way to cool down on a hot day. A better quality of living. (And as a girl who loves iced tea, I totally relate!) So with 3 boxes of tea, a bag of ice and a strainer in hand, my husband and I finally went to Terry’s house.
There, Terry and I made iced tea together. At different points, it literally meant wrapping my arms around him to do it with him. For instance, although I recommended he use a strainer, he wanted me to show him how I squeeze the extra tea out of the tea bags (putting them onto a spoon and wrapping the string around them to squeeze out the water). After spraying tea all over the front of him and the counter, he conceded that using the strainer was simpler.
While the tea was brewing, I walked around Terry’s living room. Seeing the smiling pictures of him with his mother who died four years ago of cancer moved me to tears, knowing that he couldn’t see them. There was also framed art that obviously was his mother’s. (Ironically, one of them was a framed joke about throwing away tea bags!)
When we finished, Terry had a big pitcher of iced tea flavored just how he wanted it (amen!). But even more, Terry said he couldn’t wait to make iced tea for someone else! He said, “Robin, I may not have money I can give to God right now. But I can give someone a glass of iced tea.”
As I left, Terry said something to me I’ll never forget. “Robin, it takes a lot of patience to teach a blind man.”
The Perseverance of God
Although I found patience for Terry, the truth is that I struggle to extend that same patience to myself. I wonder why it has taken me so long to wrap my heart around concepts like security and purity. And then the accuser whispers, “You should have had this down long ago!”
Working with Terry, I got just a glimpse of the love of God reflected in his perseverance. In fact, the Bible paints a picture of a God who, rather than give up on his people, doggedly persists in reaching out. Through the Old Testament we see God trying different approaches from giving written instruction to choosing prophets who could relate his message.
Ultimately, he knew the only way we could wrap our minds around the spiritual was to have a flesh and blood example. Through Jesus coming to our dwelling place, God threw his arms around us, tenderly showing us how to live in this earthly world in a way that reflects the heavenly one we cannot see. How to...
See those the world deems unclean through the eyes of God. (John 8:1-11, John 9:1-12)
Understand God’s presence when he seems nowhere to be found. (Matthew 27:45-46, Luke 23:44-46)
Live out security of heart in the midst of suffering. (Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 2:21-25)
In fact, I can imagine God might have had similar advice for Jesus as he prepared to leave Heaven. “It will take a lot of patience!”
The Unlimited Patience of God
If I’m honest with myself, living spiritually (and understanding the invisible spiritual realm) is sometimes just as foreign to me as living in a sight-oriented world can be for Terry. Even at my best, my heart falls far short of the heart of God.
But although I take a lot of spills trying to figure out life on my own terms, Jesus stands close by, gently nudging me toward the realization that his way is really best. As I let him guide my hands, my feet, my heart, my mind, suddenly I find that he’s living through me. Despite my many imperfections, I begin to reflect his image.
Then, and only then, can I take the cup that he’s filled, and offer to someone else a cool, deep drink of water from his well.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
Please pray for Terry as he studies the Bible and searches for a job where he can give back to others.
Robin’s Mango Peach Iced Tea
(Makes 2 quarts)
4 decaf tea bags (Lipton or other brand)
1 Lipton Mango herbal tea bag
1 Bigelow Perfect Peach herbal tea bag
Put tea bags with 4 cups of water in microwave (I use a glass measuring cup) for 4 ½ minutes. Let steep for an additional ten minutes. Squeeze remaining liquid out of tea bags as you remove them. For sweetened tea, add ½ cup of sugar to hot liquid and dissolve.
Pour tea into 2-quart pitcher. Add 4 cups of water and ice. Top off your pitcher with water.
Serving tip: Try topping your tea with pineapple juice (3/4 tea, 1/4 pineapple juice). Enjoy!
Psalm 119:73, John 8:1-11, John 13:12-15, 1 Timothy 1:16, 2 Peter 3:9, Psalm 48:14
What is one lesson that God is teaching you right now? How does He go about instructing you?
Listen to God’s voice:
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart..." (Matthew 11:29)
Imagine God wrapping his arms around you to teach you something new. Ponder his gentle encouragement and patient spirit. Consider how you can imitate his patience with someone in your life.