"I have two boys under two years old. Surely God understands how important sleep is to me."
I halfheartedly voiced my disagreement with the current chapter that my women’s group was studying in a convicting book called A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George. My Bible Study leader, Jennie’s face immediately challenged my position. However, I tried to avoid eye contact and continued on.
"Why does it matter what time of day I spend with God? He doesn't care when, as long as it's happening, right?"
I tried to justify my lack of discipline and my need for sleep by focusing on the challenge to start my mornings with time in prayer and Bible reading. Never mind that I had been utterly inconsistent with having this so called “Quiet Time” at ANY point in my day since my college years. I had always struggled with carving out this sacred time. Now, with young kids, my excuse was that this season of life was just too busy and I needed my sleep!
Jennie gave me THE look. The one we always got when we said something stupid, out of line or ridiculous. Her response was simply, "Jenn, you need to start your day with Jesus." And I was too cocky to believe her. Surely that way of thinking was too legalistic. (Jennie, if you are out there reading this, I was wrong. And praise God He is so patient with this blockhead.)
Over the course of the next 4 years, her words (or were they the Holy Spirit’s?) would come to mind. Eventually, I started setting my alarm for 30 minutes before the kids were up. I had every intention of starting my day in the Word, just to prove to myself that I could do it. As it turns out, I failed. It takes more than an alarm clock and willpower to accomplish success.
My willful attempts were futile because I idolized my sleep. I thought a full night's rest was what I needed to face daily challenges with grace and patience. Yet, I still found myself exhausted, unfulfilled, and I still got short with my kids. God showed me that getting more sleep doesn't make me more patient. Getting time with Jesus does.
When we seek to gain our satisfaction from anything other than Jesus, we are left wanting. Whether we look to sleep, a spouse, a job, status, income, kids, house, or even an iPhone for fulfillment, we will not find it. Those things will not sustain. Jesus is the most satisfying. Period.
"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."
(Psalm 90:14, ESV)
Now after those long, sleepless nights (and there are many with a 6 month old in the house), I don't throw a pity party all day long. Instead, I force myself out of bed and find my rest in Jesus. I have a source of patience, energy and joy more powerful than my coffee pot.
I've come to realize that the early morning hour is what separates the average from the highly successful. If I don't start my day intentionally, I get quickly distracted and sucked in to the tyranny of the urgent. I hustle all day long instead of stopping to spend time listening to God. It's like my daily vitamin. If I don't take it first thing in the morning, I totally forget.
Choosing to meet with God first gives me everything I need: love, satisfaction and peace. Filled anew with the Spirit, I'm free to give myself away without feeling drained.
What about you? Do you find it difficult to spend time with God in the morning? Below are a few links where you can find women who support each other in waking up to Jesus each morning.
See You In The Round!