Jealous? Then Get Up!

Since it rained here during the night and the sun never peeked out from the clouds this morning, I slept in today. That may sound lazy crazy, but that's just how my mind determines whether to get up at 5:45 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. I normally arise early so I can go for my walk, water my flowers, and have my quiet time outside on the back porch. But this morning two of the three were not going to happen. So I chose to sleep in.

When the phone rang at 8:00 I was still in my morning fog. You know the one where your voice is not your own, your eyesight is a little blurry, your brain isn't registering in complete thoughts much less complete sentences and your gait is decidedly awkward. My mom, who lives in the eastern time zone three hours ahead of me, effused her midday alertness and enthusiasm over the phone. I struggled to recognize my own mother's voice, remember what day it is, and answer her string of questions coherently. By the time our quick phone call ended and I hung up, I was actually awake. And I was jealous too.

Of all things, my mom had gone on and on about how much she enjoys her early mornings at the camp ground where they are enjoying a week away (away from what I don't know. What exactly do retired people get "away" from?)... (I bet I'll get some comments on that one!) She talked about getting up early, fixing her cup of coffee and heading outside to have her devotional time. She repeated over and over how much she enjoys that time alone before my dad arises and joins her - a time of solitude, fresh beginnings, a clean slate, quiet and peace.

Meanwhile, my dogs jumped around my feet, whining to be let outside. My daughter lumbered down the stairs in her own morning fog and flicked on the television. And my computer screen advertised the multitude of e-mails that awaited me. I had lost my opportunity for that early morning moment of solitude and calm. Oh sure, I'd still have a devotional time with my Bible and prayer, but it would be accompanied by the sarcastic voices of the Gilmore Girls, the whines of my dogs, and the sloshing hum of the dishwasher. No peace and stillness for me.

In Psalm 5:3, David writes:

In the morning, O Lord, 
Thou wilt hear my voice; 
In the morning 
I will order my prayer to Thee 
and eagerly watch.

I suppose the "debate" over whether a Christian really needs to have a morning quiet time as opposed to a devotional time any other time of the day is the one argument I have heard the most in Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and women's retreats. At one spring retreat I helped plan, author and speaker Edwina Patterson based her entire four-message program on the premise that we should spend time with the Lord early in the morning rather than later in the day. I don't need to tell you that feelings bristled and attitudes swelled up like sprained ankles that weekend! Some folks just aren't morning people and when you tell them they need to have a quiet time in the morning you might as well be telling them they have to cover their heads at church, observe the Passover, and quit eating bacon. They scream legalism and shut that conversation down.

And I get that, I really do. Our daily time with the Lord should be anything but a legalistic and regimented time. It should ooze with enthusiasm, a genuine desire to "be there," and willingness.

But I also believe there is quite a bit of merit (and biblical precedence) for meeting with God early in your day, before the routine and urgent grab your focus, before the noises of the day drown out His voice, and before the brash voice of the world has the opportunity to lull you into complacency and even desensitize you to His gentle, quiet voice.

Author and counselor Selwyn Hughes states my case even better than I can:

Those who do not provide for a set-aside 
time during the day -- preferably in the morning,
when they can replenish their spiritual resources --
may find that they have to provide a time at the 
end of the day for regret, for repentance,
and for eating humble pie.
I especially love Hughes' thinking about why the morning is perhaps the ideal time to meet with our Maker. He talks of a traveler who arose early in the morning in the Himalayas to watch the sun rise on the towering peaks. Here's what the traveler told him:

There, as the day began to dawn, we saw arise before 
our enraptured gaze, within a complete
semicircle, twenty peaks each above
twenty thousand feet in height, snow-capped
with virgin snow. For half an hour the
curtain (of cloud) was lifted...Then the mists
began to fill the valleys between, and the 
view was gone. Gone? No, not really--it was 
forever laid up in our green and grateful memories.

And Hughes correlates this early riser's view of his surroundings to the perspective one gains from meeting with God early in the day:

That is what a quiet time in the early part 
of the day does for you. Before the mists of 
worldly happenings blot out your view of God, 
you can take a time-exposure of Him 
which is indelibly imprinted on your mind. 
Then, after the mists close in, 
the vision is still there within.
And that is what I missed this morning. By the time I had my moments with Jesus this morning - reading His Word, sharing my concerns with Him, meditating on His truth, and listening to His quiet voice - my day had already been crowded with the noises, distractions, demands, and concerns of this day. I had missed that small window of opportunity to see my world through His perspective before I saw it through my own cloudy one. Not that I couldn't recapture some of that later at 9:00, but it would be much more difficult.

I've often been jealous of folks who seem to have such a godly perspective on their life and the world around them - people who almost seem to live on a different spiritual plain than I do. They see things more clearly, recognize God's hand in every situation, wait patiently on Him to act before they jump into action, walk closely with their God through every up and down, and carry on an easy-going conversation with their Lord throughout the day, as though it is second nature to run everything by Him. 

But the truth is, I don't need to be jealous. I just need to get up.

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