I had coffee with a bomber

Dr. Dan Erickson, receiving and giving grace at his office-away-from-home at Starbucks.

Dr. Dan Erickson, receiving and giving grace at his office-away-from-home at Starbucks.

A grace bomber, that is.


My friend Dan Erickson shakes up the room at Starbucks – in a good sort of way.

"You know, you're the best," he tells the hard-working baristas.

They're used to it.

"No, you're the best Dan!" they respond.

He tells me the same thing (along with "Do you know how much I appreciate you?"). And ditto for his grandchildren. And countless other people.

Dan tells you this so often that you start to believe it. 

Because of failing health, he can no longer drive. So when we were planning some time together he asked, "Can we go to Starbucks? I have a ministry there."

And boy does he. Not only does he know all the staff, he knows many of the customers. As we were talking, a surrogate granddaughter of sorts ran over and embraced him. As I returned from the restroom he was introducing me to yet another friend.

When Dan says "you're the best," he is not engaged in flattery. He means that all of us have intrinsic, unshakable value because we are creations of God. This God delights in us, even when we fail to delight in Him.

Dan is engaged in "grace bombing." Grace, in the Christian sense of the word, is an idea that is completely original and was introduced in the New Testament. It's rich with meaning, but can be defined as "unmerited favor." That is, I've done nothing to earn your favor. Maybe even done some things to spurn your favor. But you give me favor anyway. That is the grace of God.

And it's what Dan dispenses at Starbucks.

There's also a second-part to Dan's pronouncement, which he will share if you get to know him. It's this: "You're the best. Now be who you are." Translation: Live up to your calling. Make the best choices. Treat others with honor. Be selfless.

Dan is battling ALS, so he doesn't get to Starbucks as often as he'd like. But he wrings the most out of every trip. As the coffee drips out, so does the grace.

"You know I love you, don't you?" he says to a slightly embarrassed male customer. "Same to you," the man responds. More grace.

What if you and I decided to take grace on the road every time we ran an errand? Had a meeting? Went to a family gathering?

What keeps me from doing it? That's easy. It's me. If I'm bogged down with my own concerns, I'm unlikely to engage others.

What I really need to do in those times is drop some grace bombs, like my friend Dan.

Ready to join the brigade? Let's light 'em up.