I love getting up early. I used to get up at 3 in the morning years ago and then 4 and now it is usually closer to 5 am. I love the stillness of the pre-dawn hours and I love watching the sun rise. I listen to instrumental worship music for an hour while I pray in the spirit and for those I am committed to pray for daily. I close each day listening to quiet violin music as I talk over with the Lord what transpired during the day and allow Him to teach me what I did right and wrong. I usually study the Bible or at least meditate upon it every morning after praying. In the warmer months, I go for a walk to talk over the day with the Lord and receive insight as to how I should approach it. Some might call this daily ritual a religion, but I simply call it my personal time with my God.
I have always felt that a believer should willingly give at least a tenth of each day to praising, worshipping, praying, meditating upon and communing with God. It takes a lot of discipline to give 2 ½ hours per day to "closet time" with the Lord. When God designed the human body and mind, He did it knowing that we would want and need to be able to spend at least a tenth of each day locked in fellowship with Him. God designed the body to enjoy getting up early and going to sleep early as well. Man has disrupted God's timetable with electricity, television and other activities that keep us up late and make us too sleepy to get up early.
My dad never used an alarm. He always woke up at 5 am every day. He would put on his coffee to brew and start reading the Bible. He faithfully read the Bible for at least 30 minutes every morning. He would then eat his bowl of cereal and pray. When done with his "spiritual chores", as he called them, he would enjoy reading the paper while waiting for it to be light enough to go for his walk.
When my dad was 80 years old, he still went for his walk every day. This was no ordinary walk; it was at least 4 miles. He would listen to Bible teaching tapes as he walked, or sometimes he would just spend the time in prayer. When he got home, he always took a nap until time to make his daily run to the senior center to play pool and fellowship with the "guys". After lunch, he would take a meal home for my mom and they would watch old television shows from the 1950s and 60s until his afternoon nap.
My dad was a simple man who simply enjoyed fellowship with his Maker. He never completed High School and never held a job of any worldly prominence. He had few friends and once he was healed of an alcohol problem and the associated anger issues that came from it, he was a gentle man of few words. My dad loved God and although he was never a great "leader", he was always a great servant.
The older I get, the more I look back and see how my dad's daily routine allowed him to live a long time, live in peace most of the time and not fight the inevitable when the time to "go home" came. My dad was no saint and he had his share of problems, but for the final 25 years of his life, he was happy with his relationship with God, my mom and me.
We live in an age where the simple things in life are slowly but surely being stolen from us and replaced with complex situations, many of which have no solutions. People get tired and they get burdened down with pressure and pain. People look for escapes in games, entertainment, alcohol and drugs. At some point, they either crash and burn or they realize what is going on, and change.
In 1971 I graduated from high school and was enrolled to go to college. I became involved with a ministry and attended a festival they had in August of that year. At that weekend festival I felt God calling me to go on a one year outreach program just being started. Never in my 18 years of life was I so sure I was right about something.
Upon returning home and telling my parents of my decision, my dad said little, but my mom immediately became enraged. She yelled and screamed at me for weeks. She could not believe I would throw away a college education to go be a missionary. She cried, she yelled and most of all she let me know that for the first time ever, I had genuinely hurt her.
My mom grew up in the Great Depression in a state of poverty I cannot comprehend. She fought and clawed and worked her way through nurses training and became a Registered Nurse. She understood, from her point of view, the value of an education. My older sister had graduated from college and was a teacher. My older brother had graduated from college and was a vice-president at a corporation. Now it was my turn, and I had let her down.
My dad sat on the sidelines for quite awhile and watched my mom and I fight daily on this issue. Finally one morning he simply asked me if this was what I believed God wanted me to do with my life. He made me stop and think before answering. I told him YES, I was fully persuaded God wanted me to do this one year missionary thing. He smiled and said he would back me up because he only wanted me to do God's will in my life.
Yes, I did go on the one year program. My dad even "loaned" me one of the family cars for part of the year. Shortly after I left home, my dad convinced my mom to go to a meeting in town of the group I was with. They went and became involved and stayed involved as long as I did, which was for 15 years. As the Word of God became alive to my parents, they understood fully why I did what I felt I had to do. If they would have been younger, they too would have taken a year to go be a missionary.
My dad flew up to see me a few months into the year to tell me how proud he was of what I was doing and to tell me he was finally going to give up the alcohol problem that had ruined much of his life. He did beat it and starting in 1972 until he died in 1998 he enjoyed the peace and healing only God and His Word can bring. Before he had a stroke and lost his ability to communicate, he again thanked me for being so stubborn back in 1971. If I had not taken a stand for what I knew was right, he most surely would have died twenty years earlier and never would have been saved and made whole.
Always, Always, Always stick to your heart when you know beyond any shadow of a doubt God has worked something in your heart. Never, Never, Never second guess yourself or allow others to talk you out of what you know God wants you to do. As mere mortals, we do not know the full picture of what happens when we do what God asks of us, but if we live long enough, we will slowly but surely see the picture come into focus.
Never in million years would I have thought my stubborn decision to follow my heart and do what I believed God wanted me to do back in 1971 would produce the incredible fruit I still enjoy today. Not only would I have been deprived of the growth and blessings I received, my parents would have split up and my dad would have died a drunken unbeliever. This in not even taking into consideration the literally hundreds of teenagers who would not have found the Lord Jesus if I and the two people with me had not given a year to God.
The biggest mistakes I have made in my life and the biggest mistake I have seen in other believers is the inability to stand fast upon the "rhema" God gives regarding a specific situation. When God gives us a word, we need to hold fast to it and never let go of it. When God gives his answer of peace and we know beyond any shadow of a doubt we have our "word from the Lord"; that's it. Stand fast, unmovable steadfast in the faith. It is when we start wavering and second guessing ourselves that we lose our footing and start being blown about with every wind of doctrine. There is a time for being stubborn, and that is when we know we have God's Word on a matter.
Thank you for allowing me to share some of my heart on matters close to my heart. God has blessed me with a wealth of experience, both good and bad, and I know He desires I share it with whoever could benefit from it. My personal "resolution" this year is to get back to giving the Lord a full three hours every day. I have done it before and the benefits were astounding. It means cracking the whip on my body, but it will be worth it. Happy New Year and Blessings2You.
I have so many comments on your fabulous blog that I don't know where to start.
I too love the early morning hours for prayer and scripture reading. One of the best seasons of my life was a bible study leadership meeting at 4:30 a.m. on Friday mornings. I had to dress and drive there, so I was awake at 3:15 to be there by 4:30. It was amazing.
Your dad sounds like an amazing inspiration, yet, I understand full well where your mom was coming from. A young girl I mentor was having the same problem, she wanted to drop out of college because she felt called only to be a wife and mother. (There is no fellow in the picture!) Every time she was asked what she wanted to do, her answer was "I don't know" so my advice to her was to go back to what she DID know, the truth that she KNEW to be true and God's will, that she knew to the point she would die to defend that knowledge.
Sounds like that's exactly what you did. Way to go!
Wonderful post, thanks.
Praise God! Praise God! Praise God! He wants us to come to Him as little children. This is so hard for most to grasp, so hard for most to receive. When we turn it over to Him it has an eternal seal and will work out for our good. Thank God I can come to Him as a little child. Praise Him for His Love and tender mercies. All glory to Him and His Son, Jesus, forever and ever, Amen!
Blessings to you brother for you certainly are a blessing and an Anointed teacher.