When I was young I was afraid to sleep in my room at night. So, most mornings I had the privilege of sleeping next to my mom when she woke up. My mom has gotten up at 4 am for all of my 43 years of life. She says it is her appointment with God. I would be sleeping soundly next to her, feeling safe and secure and then suddenly, the covers would fly off and she would literally leap out of bed like the house was on fire. I would wake up startled, and then realize it was just mommy getting up for her time with Jesus. It was always so funny to me, the way she would just jump out of bed. I’d fall back to sleep, cracking up.
One day I asked her why she got up like that, and she would explain that she would wake up sleep. She felt like Satan didn’t want her to get up to meet with Jesus in the morning and so he would tempt her to stay in bed a little longer, to catch a few more winks, but instead of even rationalizing staying in bed, as soon as she knew it was time to get up, she wouldn’t think about it, but she would just JUMP out of bed!
I wish I had that type of discipline. I need that morning time with Jesus so bad, but sleep calls for me. It weighs on me so heavily. It actually feels like something is sitting on me, and also singing a lullaby to me at the same time! There have been a few times where I have tried my mom’s method and it has worked, but the battle continues.
This battles to wake up between 4 am and 5 am has been waging for me for most of my adult life. While I was single, over time I got into a habit of getting up no later than 5 am to talk with Jesus, and then I got married and had kids and I’m back at square one. Some have said, “Well it doesn’t matter when you have devotions, so just have it at night.” I’ve heard others say, “Well you’re a mom, God understands. Sometimes you just have to pray on your way in the car, or catch a quick podcast.” These all seem like fair excuses, but I go back to Jesus. He gave no excuses for suffering on the cross for me and now all he asks, is if I can just make a date with him to start my day. I actually can go back to bed if I want to, but he just wants the first fruits of my day. Just a little time to give me peace, direction, wisdom, comfort and ARMOR to go through my day.
I think the enemy knows this. He knows how powerful a morning time with the Lord can be, so he fights to keep me from it. Sleep is his weapon and my Achilles heel. One thing that keeps me motivated to keep fighting for this, is the memory of how amazing my mom’s life has been. She is such a woman of faith! Every prayer she has prayed has been answered, every need has been met, every protection of her family has been provided, every provision has been given. I have seen major miracles happen through her prayers. I mean, she will tell me one minute, “Anika, in my time with God this morning, I prayed for this or that…” and then within the week I see God show himself in a mighty way. I’ve seen her be at peace when she often struggles to have peace. I’ve seen her faith strengthened when life seemed so impossible. There is this quiet confidence she has, because she is literally resting in the arms and wisdom of the Lord. She is not a perfect woman, and so I have even seen God convict her of her sin in those times so that she can be even more of what he wants. My LORD! Her living example of the importance of having time alone with Jesus FIRST thing in the morning, although not a commandment, is a necessity for all of us.
My mom used to tell me when I was younger, “Anika, I am not ever going to read your diary. I am not going to search your room. I’m not going to eaves drop on your phone conversations. I am not going to sneak around checking up on you and your brother. Whatever I need to know about your life, God will tell me.” And, I’m serious, he has always always revealed to her my secret sins. And when the Lord would do that, she would confront me with it and disciple me. OMG! My mom has tapped into the mighty power of the All-knowing and All-powerful God! As a mom that is so priceless! As a wife, that is so powerful! My dad says it’s one of the things that endears him to her, because of her dependence on the Lord, she faithfully obeys her call to be his wife. She does it humbly, because she is not being a wife in her own strength and wisdom, or to even please him! But she is taking her direction from her Lord and fulfilling this role as unto the Lord. I want this power!
So, I fight to get there. I will not give up. My mom is my light. God’s Word gives examples of people who would get up before the sun rose. David said, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word” (Psalm 119:147-148). The times where I have been able to meet the Lord between 4 am and 5 am, something almost supernatural occurs. I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit intensely. I can hear him speak to me. Reading His Word becomes more than some perfunctory tradition that I have to do because I’m a Christian, but it becomes ALIVE! A song comes into my heart many times. Sometimes, I have found myself weeping in prayer as I am filled with love for my Savior. Those times I remember drive me to want to keep trying, because I want to come to the Garden again, and walk with the Lord while he speaks to me and lets me pour my heart out to Him! I am humbled in those morning times, that the “cloud” of the Lord would come down to me and meet with me. I feel so small and yet so protected, because I feel God saying, “I am with you child. Thank you for meeting me this morning.” So I long to go back.
I didn’t quite make it this morning. I was up a little before 6 am. Somehow Satan makes a few more hours of sleep seem more amazing than actually meeting the Creator of the Universe face to face. It’s a lie though, because the whole time I’m fighting for more sleep, I am actually awake trying to rationalize why I should get a little more sleep. I will try again tomorrow, and my prayer is that one day waking up between 4 am and 5 am becomes a habit. I am trying to condition my heart and mind to feel as an old lady in our church once said, “I get up at 4 am EVERY morning. I don’t miss my doctor’s appointments. I go to work on time. Meeting with my Savior, is even more important than that, and I will NOT miss that date with Him.” May the realness of God become so prevalent in me that I too, will see the importance of making that appointment with God every single day.