February 9, 2011

Wake-up Call

OK, confession time: I’m an artificial morning person, created out of necessity rather than nature. Just to illustrate, during my Union College days I worked the 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. shift at the Prescott Hall desk for three years. After work was over, I’d pass out on the top bunk—roommate below well into dream mode—and wake up just in time for my 9:00 class. This strategy was effective only because as a communication major, I never once had a class earlier than 8:30 a.m. For all my math and science friends out there, who always seemed to get the brunt of early-morning classes, employing such tactics would have permitted less than five hours of sleep.
After graduation the shift into “the real world” required change: gone were the days of drifting off to the 1:00 a.m. edition of Sportscenter. At first I tried to push the envelope and sleep past 7:00 a.m. I quickly learned, however, that wearing a suit requires slightly more prep time than blue jeans. So I became a self-made morning man.
These days I’m a 6:20-or-so riser. With my workday staring at 8:00 a.m., that gives me around an hour and 20 minutes to get dressed, eat breakfast, and find a few moments to spend with God.
2011 1504 page27Oops. I did it again.
Just a second, I need to get on my own case; perhaps you’ll be able to relate. Sometimes I drive myself crazy when I say “I need to find time to spend with God.” Should it really be something I have to find?
Time Is . . .
You’ve heard the phrase “time is money,” right? If so, shouldn’t our time habits reflect our tithe habits? Think about it. If we deposit our paycheck, proceed to pay our bills, and make all “necessary” purchases, will we still be able to find the 10 percent for tithe? Sure . . . sometimes. Other times, the bank account may be squeezed a little tight, and we promise to make up for it later. I don’t know any faithful tither that operates in such a manner. As my mom always says: “That 10 percent was never mine to begin with.”
Since the middle of college, I’ve known the importance of spending time in the morning with God. For the past year my morning routine has consisted of showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and spending with God the last 15 minutes before I have to leave. Most of the time those minutes were there. But, of course, there were days I moved a little slower or woke up a little late. Guess what got squeezed out?
During my Christmas break to see my family back in Nebraska I had the opportunity to attend Omaha Memorial, the church I grew up in. My first Sabbath there, Pastor Jerry Connell was reflecting on a challenge he’d encountered in his own spiritual walk. After recently purchasing a laptop computer, he’d grab it first thing in the morning to check news, weather, and other happenings. With breakfast and his morning workout still on tap, morning time with God—although not cut completely—became relegated to a 9:30 time slot.
For Pastor Connell, his wake-up call was delivered through a sermon he was listening to while driving home. The speaker, stressing the importance of beginning the day with God, said: “Why would I want to start my day with the rubbish of man when I have the opportunity to first fill my heart and mind with the words of God?”
That was all Pastor Connell needed to hear.
It’s true: there’s a lot of rubbish in this world. With all the unknown calamities we’re each bound to encounter, why wouldn’t we want to start our day first thing by spending time with our Savior, the one absolute in life?
If time is money, time with Him is pure gold.
Jimmy Phillips ([email protected]) writes from Bakersfield, California, where he is marketing and communication coordinator for San Joaquin Community Hospital. This article was published February 10, 2010.