Until just a few years ago I didn’t. For a lot of years, I was busy. The busy-ness all involved very legitimate things-teaching, working on the mission, taking care of my mom, raising my kids and holding down a job, much of it all at the same time. If I woke up in the early morning my first concern was going back to sleep so I could have the energy to get all of those legitimate things accomplished.
It has only been since I retired that I’ve come to know how blest we can be in the early hours of the morning. I’ve not had anything of pressing importance to keep me from sitting and soaking up the peace.
The world is sleeping. Our neighborhood is a very quiet one anyway and at three in the morning it is even absolutely hushed. Our house is absolutely still, even the busy cats are asleep and, of course, the dogs are dead to the world. Even those little noises that come with every house-- the sound of the warm air flowing from the ducts, the gurgle of water in a pipe, the click of a clock-- are muted. Nothing disturbs the stillness.
It’s then that God can be so very near and it is so very easy to hear His Voice.
I’ve learned to simply sit and reflect on life and the things of God. One of the greatest blessings that hascome with reading the Word of God for nearly sixty years is that it becomes engraved in your heart and mind. (For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. Yep, it’s true!) And when you are still, the Holy Spirit brings those scriptures back to mind. You don’t even need to pick up the Bible, He just scrolls them through one after another until His sermon is finished.
And after the Holy Spirit has led you through those scriptures He begins to bring to mind those people in your life who need your prayer. To me that’s as amazing as how He lays the scriptures on your heart because sometimes those He brings to mind are people that you would have no reason to think of or pray for and yet there it is, the burden of prayer resting heavy on you.
How does He do that?
I don’t know but I know the blessings of it. It happens most often in the dark silence of early morning. It is at that time of day we can truly ‘be still and know that I am God.’ And it is at that time of day we can realize that we are a very, very small part of the Lord’s Plan. It is humbling and uplifting at the same time. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Doesn’t that make you feel so special in the eyes of God? And doesn’t it make you feel so insignificant in His overall Plan? A less familiar scripture, one of Job’s questions, says What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? Job 7:17-18
I think it is only in the early hours that we can realize how much He has magnified us and set His heart on us. I know for me those hours of realization have become a special part of my life because it is then that He is so close.
I’m not one of those people who say you have to get up at the crack of dawn and have devotions. Nor do I feel that I must ‘discipline’ myself to spend time in the Word or with the Lord. For me there is no ‘discipline’ involved in reading or meditation on the Word of God. I do it because there is a part of me that draws me to it. It is like breathing. I do it because I am drawn to it like a magnet draws iron filings.
I used to read my Bible, ordinarily, at the end of the day and go to bed with the words in mind. I had a tiny bible that I kept in my drawer at work and sometimes during the day a scripture would come to mind and I would take a couple minutes to go and read the text. Or sometimes in the morning I would look for something that had been in my mind as I woke up. Now I read and study on and off all day long. (How good to be ‘retired’.) And all of those times are sweet. But I think my favorite time is at three or four in the morning when I just wake up for no apparent reason and spend the next three hours being quiet with the Lord. For so many, many years I wasn’t able to do that, but now I can.
Makes me think of Ecclesiastes. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Old age is a season and the purpose of it is that we now have time to sit still and dwell in the presence of God in a way we never could when we were younger.
If you can, the next time you wake up three hours before you usually get out of bed, go ahead and get up. Don’t turn on the radio, or put on a CD or even turn on the lights. Just go out to your favorite chair and sit there quietly. Think about the Lord and His blessings. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and let the Lord sit right there in the room with you. It will be a blessing.