THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO DEMONSTRATE HOW A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST CAN APPROACH HIS DAY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE DAY; HOW THE TONE FOR THE ENTIRE DAY CAN BE SET IF WE WAKE UP AND “IMMEDIATELY” DIRECT OUR ATTENTION UNTO THE LORD.
Our first actions of the day can set the tone for the entire day. We’re all familiar with the various cliches about waking up on the “wrong side of the bed.” If we can see how imperative it is to “start the day off right,” we will have a greater chance of launching into the day in the presence and power of Christ.
I assure you, your adversary trembles at that thought. Until now you may not have considered yourself a “morning person,” but that can change.
It may be that you failed to see the importance of this matter, or never deemed it that significant. Perhaps you’ve never considered the implications of your waking moments, or their power to affect your day. Some of the greatest insight I’ve encountered on this overlooked subject comes from C.S. Lewis:
“…the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.” (Mere Christianity)
I would be curious to know how many of our “bad days” had their beginnings when we first awakened. How often, I wonder, did the day that was “awful” become so because we allowed it to start when we first woke up – and did absolutely nothing about it? If we seek out the origins of an unpleasant day, it may be that we discover it all started in our waking moments. The great revival preacher Jonathan Edwards resolved…
“…whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.”
I suspect that in many of those days when troubles seem to overwhelm us, their origins may well be in our waking moments. Our “original cause” for a miserable day may be our actions, or the lack thereof, in those first few moments we open our eyes.
I’m certainly not saying that a day will always be “wonderful” if we start out right, but, I do believe that some of those bad days would not have been so had we got out of bed in the appropriate state of mind. It’s “the real problem,” Lewis called it. And I think he’s right.
Luke says that after Jesus was tempted, the devil left him “until an opportune time.” An opportune time for our enemy to strike is, for many of us, in our waking moments. Lewis goes on to explain why…
“All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.”
Often we are not awake but a few seconds when the demands of the day, its cares and worries, unpaid bills, family turmoil, come rushing at us “like wild animals.” No sooner are we awake and we are already dreading what the day holds for us.
Dread is a common emotion for many: We dread the drive to work, we dread facing the people we work with, and dread coming back home in the evening. For many of us, we are worn out before we have even started, perhaps due to that feeling of dread that weighs so heavy on our mind. Added to our dread is anxiety over what we hope will happen, what we desire will come our way. Lewis tells us how to respond…
“…the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back…”
“The first job…shoving them back…” I must first learn to shove. How does one “shove?” You do so with the words of your mouth. As a police officer I have forced many a crook to cooperate with me, merely by using the trusted weapon of words.
Now, you may be lying next to your spouse and not want to wake her/him, so your style may be like Hannah’s, who, according to First Samuel, “was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” In this manner, you can simply shove aside your own wishes, desires, demands, dread, and so on. By doing so you will “tune in” to God - to heaven’s frequency. You can simply pray…
Father…here comes the thoughts about the day before me. I choose to shove them aside so that I may hear your voice…
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This was the Psalmist’ routine. As the day before him raced through his mind, he turned to God…
But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning, my prayer comes before you...(Psalms 88:13)
After I have shoved aside all such thoughts, Lewis says I then must practice…
“…listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in…”
I once heard Brennan Manning say that upon waking, he immediately declares that Abba is his father, and he is Abba’s child. This is a great way to silence the mind as the thoughts of the day rush in. A simple reminder of who God is, and who you are in relation to him, makes for a good start.
Don’t be anxious to jump out of bed and get on with the day. A few minutes, or maybe only seconds, of contemplation will help. It may take a few days, or perhaps weeks, to see the benefit of this, but, if you “stay the course” you will reap accordingly.
In his book Reaching for the Invisible God, Philip Yancey writes of his own waking practices…
I used to jump out of bed as soon as I woke up. Now I lie there in the quiet and invite God into my day, not as a participant in my life or an item on a check list but as the hub of all that will happen that day.
John Wesley once said that “All hurry is of the devil.” Solomon wrote along these same lines hundreds of years earlier: “He that hastens with his feet errs” (Proverbs 19:2). Some things must be done hurriedly, and there are certainly days when you must rise from the bed quickly, however, that need not be our regular practice. We can learn to lie in the bed, and force the mind to think on God. This was King David’s practice:
And me? I plan on looking you full in the face. When I get up, I’ll see your full stature and live heaven on earth. (The Message, Psalms 17:15)
David marveled at the presence of the Lord in his life, and he believed that presence to be a constant companion, even when he first awoke - "When I awake, I am still with you." (Psalms 139:18)
David, I believe, had an understanding about the presence of God that few possessed. On this subject he wrote often. His references to his own practice upon waking in the morning point to the fact that he knew he had to set his mind on God constantly – beginning in the morning.
In Psalms 57:7 he wrote, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed…” The Hebrew word for “fixed” means, among many things, to “direct” or “set up.” David’s practice was to “set,” or “direct,” his heart (mind) toward thoughts about God. This is an act of the will. Apparently he had learned the importance of shoving back all the thoughts about the oncoming day – and surely there was many for the king of Israel. David then turned (direct, set) his mind toward the Almighty. He also made mention of this habit in the beautiful passage found in Psalms 16:8...
I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.