I woke up early, but that’s not unusual for me because I’m naturally a morning person anyway. Where I was at, however, was very different. I woke up that morning in a tent, in Lestage, Haiti. It seems as if the whole country of Haiti wakes up early-the chickens, the cows, the people. As I rolled over in the dimly glowing tent, I noticed that my tent mate was already awake and was looking intently at his cellphone. I joked with him, “Fenold, you’re just like an American, looking at your phone first thing before you’re even out of bed.” In his defense, he replied, “I have my Bible on my phone.” I then quickly rolled out of bed, grabbed an actual paper Bible, my journal, and a pen and headed up the hillside behind the church to watch the sunrise-my Haiti morning routine.
But it’s not my at-home-in-America morning routine. Far more often I’m like Fenold and the first thing that I do is grab my cellphone. Statistics say that I’m far from alone. Even though I know it’s not the best for me, why do I choose to fill my first waking moments with others thoughts and political opinions that make me upset via Facebook? Why do I fill those moments with what others need or want from me via e-mail? And why do I start work before I’m even out of bed via to-do lists and calendars? I could go on, but you get the point.
As I type this blog entry I have Rich Mullins song “Step by Step” going through my head. “Oh God, You are my God; And I will ever praise You; Oh God, You are my God; And I will ever praise You. I will seek You in the morning; And I will learn to walk in Your ways; And step by step You’ll lead me; And I will follow You all of my days.”
Rich based the lyrics of that song on Psalm 63:1-8.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (ESV)
I, like Fenold, do read my Bible on my phone. I’m not looking to stop that practice. What I am seriously looking to change is all of the other negative things that I put into my brain first thing in the morning (and for that matter last thing before I go to sleep at night).
The Psalms are filled with examples of seeking God first thing in the morning.
Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your loyal love! Then we will shout for joy and be happy all our days!
Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, hear my voice. In the morning I lay my needs in front of you, and I wait.
Psalm 119:147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 57:7-10 My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
The irony is not lost on me that you are receiving this encouragement via some sort of electronic media. I’m not looking to throw the baby out with the bath water. I’m not advocating getting rid of e-mail, calendars, cellphones, or Facebook. I am advocating that they be used at the appropriate times and for me that will no longer be first thing in the morning!