July 11, 2008

Morning by Morning

"The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught."
Isaiah 50:4

I want to be a morning person. I really do. And some seasons of my life I feel naturally perky in the mornings. But usually it doesn't come very easily to me. I'm not really a night person anymore, either. A regular day as a wife, mom, homeschool teacher, and businesswoman leaves me feeling about as energetic as a wet tea bag. I guess you could say I'm typically a noon person.

But over the years I've seen the value of consistently waking up early. If I want a quiet time, it must be done before the kids wake up. If I want to go running, I need to leave the house before my husband leaves for work. If I want time to read the newspaper, it has to happen before breakfast.

The gospels tell us over and over that Jesus woke up while it was still dark and stole away to spend some time with His Heavenly Father. Over the past year I have been convicted that for me personally, this is the model I need to follow. Don't get me wrong--there have been seasons in my life when there was no way getting up while it was still dark was an option. My quiet time during my college years was usually around 10 or 11 p.m. My Bible study and prayer time when my older kids were still infants and toddlers happened during their naptime after lunch. But now? Now it's time to get up while it's still dark.

I've seen a correlation between my exercise habits and my spiritual health. When I'm sleeping in, putting off a run or a workout for another day, I'm more likely to skim through my Bible reading and doze during my prayer time. But on the days I am up early, clearing my brain while pounding the pavement or lifting weights, I sit down with my hot tea and Bible study materials much more ready to receive what the Holy Spirit has for me that morning. I am more sensitive to His voice, possibly because I've been preparing my heart and mind during my exercise time. Another possible reason this happens is simply the commitment and discipline involved in doing these activities regularly.

Once I finally got it through my head that God truly WANTS me to get up EARLY, as in 5 a.m. most mornings, I spent some time mourning for my lost sleep, sighed a lot, and then began praying earnestly that He would help me do this thing.

You know what? He answered that prayer. I still marvel that I am consistently rolling out of bed in plenty of time to spend one-on-one time with my Lord before my small charges are awake and bouncing off the walls. During my time of preparing for and writing the Commission 2008 Bible study, God showed me Isaiah 50:4, the verse at the beginning of this post. He has literally made this true in my life. Morning by morning I've been waking ready to hear His voice. Sometimes He wakens me with a praise song in my head. Other times I have actually awakened with a Bible verse running through my mind like a web banner that can't be overlooked. I've been exercising consistently, and I'm finding that I've been sleeping through the night--a small miracle in and of itself considering the fact that I usually make potty trips in the wee hours (ha!) of the morning.

I write this not to boast about how great my morning routine is, or how disciplined I am for getting up. Those who know me probably understand how amazing it is that I've been waking at 5 a.m. without a whole lot of prodding. (Ted would probably be the first to attest to the fact that I could sleep through his alarm and never wake until after he left the house if left to my own devices.) I praise and thank the Lord for directing me to PRAY that if He wanted me up in the mornings, He would help me do it for His glory.

I felt led to write about this topic in hopes that I might encourage others, particularly moms, in this area. I believe God will bless whatever time we set aside to be with Him, no matter what time of day it is. But I also believe there is a huge amount of value in making that time happen first thing in the morning. If, like me, you typically have difficulty prodding your eyes open before dawn, I encourage you to claim Isaiah 50:4 for your own life. After I read that and prayed over it, I committed the verse to memory, and I was at first astonished to find that that very week, I was waking up moments before the alarm went off, ready to start the day. But why should I have been surprised? Our God delights to spend time with us. He was so eager for me to come to Him that He answered my heartfelt prayer immediately!

I know He will do the same for you.

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