On the mens' retreat last month, we had a morning conversation outside. I thought I'd be the smart one, and wore swim trunks and an undershirt while everyone else wore layers of warmth. Thunderclouds were nearby, and I smiled, hoping we'd get drenched and these "men" would try to tough it out in their layers. Well, the rain came. The circle of guys moved under shelter. I was just cold.
But good conversation was still had. The discussion prompt was asked by our host, "When during your day do you "become Christian" for that day?" Despite sensing some bit of theology I didn't like there...I understood what he was really asking. "When do you spend time with Jesus in a way that matters to how you live?" We went around the circle. It was obvious that our host believed this should be done early in the day, so that it offers something for the rest of your hours. I answered honestly.
I'm a morning person. I can get up whenever the alarm goes off, usually. But when we began having kids, it began to change. If I get up early, it often wakes others up, as they're curious of the noise. So I began sleeping until our kids woke us up, and the morning was with them. I find my time usually later in the day, at work (as a pastor, I can usually carve out a moment), or in the car, etc.
Then he pointed out...wouldn't I rather my daughters grew up learning their dad spent his first moments of each day with Jesus, preparing for whatever may come? Yes, actually, I'd love that.
I came back from the retreat, and set my alarm for 6am. My wife has joined me as well. I'll be honest, it hasn't happened every morning. But most mornings, it's been a great way to begin the day. I've tried different things: prayer, scripture reading, writing, reading other things, silence, etc. I've found no matter the avenue, God blesses those moments for the day ahead. On occasion, a daughter does hear the noise and come out. "What are you doing?" she'll ask. "Spending some time with Jesus" we say. Then they'll usually cuddle up on the couch and rest, or grab a book themselves.
This is a good discipline. :)
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