For the past few days, I’ve been conducting sort of a personal experiment. One that I never thought I would willingly do of my own decision. I’ve been getting up at 5 A.M. Why? Well there are a few reasons. One, I have been convicted that I need to set aside more time for personal Bible study and prayer. I try to focus on my relationship with God, but I’ve discovered that if I don’t set aside time first thing in the morning, then I let the busyness of my life and schedule get in the way. There aren’t a lot of things to distract me from my quiet time when I am doing it before 6 A.M.
But that isn’t the only reason. I was doing pretty well with my quiet time over the last few weeks anyway. I was just making sure that I got up a little earlier than I needed to, so I could spend some time with God before I started the rest of my day. And it was working pretty well. Then, I read an article that has been circulating in the ministry/Christian living circles the last couple of weeks. In it, the author stated that he regularly got up at 3 A.M, did his quiet time, and began his day. I kind of laughed. There is no way I could sustain that schedule. I’m too much of a night owl (even getting up at 5 A.M. this week, I can’t seem to get to bed before 10:30).
But there was something that caught my attention in his article. Part of his morning routine was at least an hour on the treadmill. In his effort to give his mornings completely to God (which is an admirable goal), he was giving at least an hour to taking care of his body physically. A few months ago, my wife and I were taking that pretty seriously, and were going to the gym regularly. Because of a few different issues, we let our gym membership go, however, so that focus hasn’t been there. I realized I needed to start taking care of myself better. I was doing well with my spiritual side, but I had been neglecting the physical side.
I live in the desert. Carlsbad, NM regularly hits triple-digit temperatures during the summer, and we’re almost there (101 is the projected temp tomorrow), so doing anything physical outside after my workday is not necessarily the best option. So, this past Sunday, knowing I needed to leave the house around 7:45 to 8:00 to get to the church to finalize everything for our services, I got up at 5. I did my quiet time (drinking plenty of coffee to help this night owl stay awake and focused). Around 6, just as the dawn was breaking, I left my house on a walk. The path I walked was the same that I was regularly walking when I was going to the gym a few months ago as well.
It’s a gorgeous walk, that ends up being around 2.67 miles, most of which wind along the Pecos River here in Carlsbad. I repeated the wake up time on Monday, but because of a nasty mist/rain going on, I didn’t make the full walk. I tried, but the closer I got to the river (we live a few blocks from it), the harder it was raining. I had headphones and my cell phone with me, so I turned around and went back home because I didn’t want to take a chance on ruining my electronics.
Tuesday, I woke up and did my quiet time, but was not feeling well, so I went back to sleep for a little while. I got up and did some sermon prep, but didn’t want to neglect my walk two days in a row. After finishing up the study I was doing for sermon prep, I went on my walk in the mid morning, before returning to my work. And then I come to today, and the inspiration for this post. I actually woke before my alarm even went off, got my coffee ready, sent off an e-mail prayer chain that I needed to make sure I remembered, and settled in for my quiet time.
God spoke to me so much in that time today. I have actually already written another article based on something that He opened up to me this morning, but it’s going to be my next submission to the local newspaper. I’ll post it here on Saturday morning, after it’s been published in the paper. But it wasn’t just my Bible reading and quiet time that impacted me this morning. When I left for my walk, it was a crisp 49 degrees. Pretty chilly on a day that is supposed to hit the mid 90’s this afternoon. But I went anyway. I would actually rather walk in that cool of weather vs. close to triple digits in the evening.
As I got down to the river area (lovingly referred to as “The Beach” around town), the Sun was just rising over the pine trees on the other side of the river. The water was almost completely calm. I love that area of town. I know how pretty and peaceful it can be. But something was different this morning. I don’t know if it was because of how cool the temperature was, or that there was not another person to be seen at the moment, or what. I was completely awestruck with the beauty that God had given me this morning.
While I have been studying and having quiet time before going on these walks, I also try to use my time walking as prayer time as well. I have Christian music going in my headphones, and I just try to pour my heart out to God. But I was almost speechless this morning. From the beauty of the river and the sunrise, to the fish that were breaking the surface of the water, feeding as I walked across the footbridge from one side of the river to the other, God was just surrounding me with His love, and the beauty of His creation.
My wife and I have a different view of things. I like to experience the beauty of a moment and just take it it. She wants to be able to look back on these moments, and experience them over and over again. What do I mean? She takes tons of pictures, I don’t. I just want to soak in the moment (plus, i have my phone strapped to my arm and it’s not that easy to take pictures that way). So the picture I have here is from her this morning. She took a walk about an hour after I got back. But the beauty is still there.
I don’t know why, but today just reminded me to try to see the beauty in everything. We get distracted by the world around as, and just go through the motions. At least I know that’s what happens to me. Maybe it’s because I have been a little more focused on spending time with God in a tangible way in the last few weeks, but He showed up in a big way today, reminding me of His grace, His love, and His beauty. He’s probably been trying to remind me of all of those things a lot recently. I just finally allowed myself to slow down enough to see it. And I’m glad I did.
Slow down. Spend time with God. It doesn’t matter if you get up early, stay up late, block out a chunk of time in the middle of your afternoon, or whenever, just find a time that works for you. Focus on your relationship with God. You never know what you might be missing when you don’t.