There’s a fascinating story in the Book of John that has captured my attention . But before I tell you about it, let me share a little secret.
Ready? Okay. Here it is.
I have always admired people who make morning quiet time a priority. Especially those who rise before dawn, settling into the stillness with a steamy mug of hot tea or coffee, as soft light creates a backdrop for the first fruits of their day. These people tend to carve out priority space for God’s Word, conversation with the Lord, and time to write or journal.
Maybe this is you. But I thought it could never be me.
For years, I’ve lived a different narrative, convinced “I’m just not a morning person.”
In stark contrast, the early hours of each day have long been defined by a love of the snooze button, and the mad dash that comes with getting a late start.
Like an airplane making up for lost time, compensating with higher speeds during flight to maintain an on time arrival.
Okay. Not really. But honestly, that analogy has come to mind on many harried occasions, and spending time in God’s Word has often been folded into the course of an already busy day, or even pushed aside with hope of catching up along the way.
Because as a self proclaimed night owl, it’s easy to procrastinate.
I’ll read my Bible in a little while.
I’ll work on an outline for that writing project after this one thing.
Good intentions. But as you and I know, one thing often leads to another, and even the best intentions falter in the face of exhaustion. Then sleep offers solace and a silent promise to do better tomorrow.
So this is my struggle.
But the good news is, it doesn’t end there.
With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to invite you into a story. It’s found in John 20, an epic moment in history that brings fresh perspective to the early hours of each day.
Unfolding in quiet stillness, very early in the morning, it’s the journey of a grieving woman surprised by one of the greatest miracles of all time.
Her name is Mary Magdalene.
In the darkness before dawn, she makes her way down a dusty road, heart heavy with suffocating weights of turmoil and uncertainty.
How could it be?
How could the horrific events of the past week playing over and over in her mind be true? Persecution. Betrayal. Death. If only it were a dream. Or a terrible nightmare.
The man who changed her life forever suffered a cruel crucifixion, and the cold reality shook her to the core. Now, at the mouth of an empty tomb, Mary shivers in the face of another heart wrenching realization.
The stone is rolled away. And The Lord’s body is gone, stolen by a thief in the night.
As grief turns to confusion and despair, Mary runs to tell the disciples. Two of them decide to accompany her back to the tomb, only to return home again, the harsh memories of what they all endured cutting bitter wounds into their souls.
And believe it or not, this is where the story gets good. In the face of hopelessness, loss and pain.
John 20:11 tells us Mary stood outside the sepulcher, weeping. She stoops down, looking inside to see two angels where the body of Jesus had been.
“Woman, why weepest thou?” They ask.
Carrying more questions than answers, Mary’s response holds uncertainty, becoming the voice of longing in an impossible plight.
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him, ” she replies, turning to see a man through her tears.
Supposing him to be the gardener, her plea intensified.
“Tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
That’s when she froze. At the familiar, soul stirring voice calling her name.
At that moment, overcome by a flood of emotions, she knew it was Him.
The grave had been defeated. Jesus was alive and He showed up in her deepest hour of need.
As I read this account of Christ’s resurrection, here is the point I often pause to take in the wonder of it all.
Can you imagine?
Hope triumphs over sorrow. The burden of grief is lifted. And a broken heart is transformed with unspeakable joy.
The story is captivating. And there is an underlying message that brings us full circle. Because you may be wondering how the illustration relates to my morning struggles.
Bear with me, we’re almost there.
The correlation starts with a question.
Why did Jesus appear to Mary Magdalene first?
Though there could be much discussion and speculation on the topic, two thoughts in particular stand out to me.
She made Him her priority.
And she sought Him early.
Jesus was on Mary’s mind even before the first glow of sunrise dotted the landscape and she made it a priority to find Him. Granted, the circumstances were far from ordinary.
But could this be the answer? I don’t know. I do, however, think it’s possible.
Hebrews 11 tells us that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. And though He is not bound by time, you and I are. And I believe He pays attention when we put Him first.
Asking the question, “Does it matter how we start our day?”, is a hard one for me. Because, well, you know. Mornings have historically not been my strongest virtue.
But in closing, let me say that 2017 has been a subtle wake up call. (Pun not intended, but it applies well, don’t you think? 🙂 )
Quiet, early moments are calling my name and I’ve begun embracing the beauty they have to offer. There is still struggle, yes. And as with any journey, it’s a work in progress.
But I’m learning that consistency starts with commitment in allowing daily responsibilities to unfold from a place of calm, rather than the frantic rhythms of our noisy world. Believe it or not, when the desire is strong enough, even a night owl can slowly be transformed.
Giving God the first thoughts of each day is a humble offering of appreciation for the grace filled moments He allows us to live.
And I’m realizing it does matter how we start our day, though it looks different for each season of life.
Like the form of a gardener Mary saw through her tears, sometimes The Lord shows up in unexpected ways.
On the sacred pages of His Word. Through the strengthening power of His Spirit. And in the form of answered prayers when we least expect them.
Because The Lord’s mercies are new every morning. For me. And for you.
If only we will always make room for the honor of His presence.