But Do I HAVE To?

I really admire those disciplined people who have their Jesus time first thing in the morning. You know, the ones who don’t do anything until they’ve spent time with Him? They wake up, read their Bible, pray THEN they go about their day. I understand the idea behind this routine. It even makes sense to me. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to make myself do it. Some would argue that I lack the discipline to create the habit. Or maybe I just can’t get my act together enough to make it work! Or maybe it’s that my body is naturally attuned to Island Time.

By nature, I am a morning person. I wake up and instantly my brain kicks in. Full conversations start the moment I become awake. Others need an hour to get the process started, 3 cups of coffee and a small jolt of electric shock!

Don’t get me wrong. I believe it’s important to get in some one-on-one time with God. It’s impossible to cultivate a relationship (of any type) without communication. But I will no longer be guilted by well-meaning Christians that early morning routines are “God’s way.” [Those poor, unfortunate, non-morning souls!]

So, here are a few of my thoughts:

1.  Quality, not quantity. There is no point wasting my morning pretending to read my Bible or pray. Is it better to wake up early with the intention of spending time with God, only to fall asleep while praying? Or to get in the daily reading but have no idea what you just read? My husband and I could sit in the same room for hours yet have no connection. However, life is much fuller when we are present and enjoy each other’s company! The point should be to spend time with God, to commune with Him, to get to know Him more.

2. Relationship, not religion. Religion says I have to do certain things in order to be a proper Christian. Relationship makes me want to do things differently. When my heart is connected to God’s heart, amazing things happen! The entire theme of the Bible is to bring mankind back into relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. Religion may know tons of scriptures and all the “rules” we are suppose to follow. And, let’s be honest. Our flesh so badly wants to break rules once we know them! I don’t understand it. There is just something enticing about the forbidden. But out of relationship, I want to make right choices. I want to live up to a higher standard. I want to follow after things of God.

3. Love, not fear. If my relationship with God is founded in love, there is freedom. I make mistakes. Sometimes, they are small and easily remedied. But sometimes they are bigger. What do I do then? I find myself running TO God, not AWAY from Him. Our relationship is founded in His love. I am not afraid of correction because I know He wants what is best for me even more than I do! But if fear controlled my response to God, I would be filled with anxiety. I would want to hide every time I messed up because I am sure He is about to unleash the wrath of God. I would be burdened with guilt any time I fell short of perfection (which is often).

4. Self-awareness. Even though I am a morning person, I am aware of my attention first thing in the morning. If I woke up and immediately went into deep prayer and Bible study, my thoughts would be competing for attention. The To-Do list starts kicking in right away. The random reminders that only seem to pop up when I first wake (seriously, why can’t I remember these things later in the day when I can actually get to them?!?!?!). I am aware that the ONLY way I can give my full attention to God is AFTER I have unloaded aaaaaallllllllllll these thoughts. I love to get up, head into my office and begin a To-Do list. I just unload the random thoughts. I’ve heard it called a Brain Dump and that is exactly what I need to do. Dump all the thoughts, the lists, the things fighting for my attention onto a piece of paper or into my planner. Now I have cleared space in my head. I can give God my undivided attention, which is what He deserves. And, I can sit and BE STILL! There is no restlessness- just peace. I can’t be still on the inside if my mind is racing a million miles an hour. I doubt you can, either.

5. Be intentional. My life phrase this year has been LIVE INTENTIONALLY. It is so easy to go on autopilot through life. We make decisions without much thought. We create a routine that is comfortable, but it doesn’t help us to grow. Last year, God began showing me that I was on a path to just drift through life. It wasn’t a bad path, but it wasn’t His best for me. It felt safe, but it wasn’t exciting. After some soul-searching and many exercises, I realized I was losing one of my core desires- adventure! Saying YES to God will take you on the best adventures in life! The places you see, the people you meet, the lives you impact- it makes an adventurous heart happy! In order to do great things for God, you have to hear Him when He whispers to you. It is the daily, consistent acts of obedience that leads to great adventures. It isn’t a one-time, larger-than-life experience. And, yes, sometimes those acts of obedience mean being woken up at 4am with the urgency to pray. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Maybe I’m doing this all wrong. Maybe I’m not. What I do know is this: I love to spend time in His presence. We talk throughout the day. My spirit yearns to be connect to Him. I love Him, because He first loved me. I trust Him, because I know Him.

Build the relationship. Connect your heart to God’s heart. Learn to say YES!,

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