I have always been a morning person. I love the way that each muscle in my back feels as I stretch out long, and the way my toes are cold when I take the covers off. Most days, I am immediately excited, even to the point of annoying those around me. I usually pray in bed over my day, rise and stretch, and get moving/talking/singing/dancing the minute those cold toes hit the floor. I’ve had non-morning friends tell me that an energized morning encounter with me is one of the hardest things to endure…but I am convinced that mornings are the loveliest time of day. Light peaks over the horizon and greets you softly through curtains or doorways. The whole day is ahead; what isn’t exciting about that?
I know someone extremely special named Chip. He sees Creation with more wonder and delight than anyone I know. Although more mellow than me in the morning, he loves mornings too. Early one day last week, we were hiking through the wooded dunes of Saugatuck, Michigan. Light shone through the woods like strings from the sky, (the way it tends to among trees). Light shone even brighter as we emerged from trees over a sand dune, and found ourselves before Lake Michigan. Coffee-filled and giddy from springtime warmth, we couldn’t believe how mornings could be spent any other way. After a period of quiet disbelief in the beauty of that place, Chip said that he thinks artificial light has distracted us from God’s intent for our days; he said that perhaps we were created to wake when the sun rose and rest when it set, no earlier or later. And when it did get dark, that a good campfire spent in fellowship with one another meant more than huddling under lamps to keep fussing with the day’s passed tasks. I’d never thought of it that way, but I truly do agree with Chip- not just because I’m partial to the morning, but because when the earth was created, we were created in God’s image; those first image-bearers rose and set alongside the sun. Any light beyond that is for our time, not God’s.
Later, I got to thinking about all of the metaphorical “artificial lights” that I allow into my life, even more so in a Christian community. Admittedly, I’ve been sometimes spoon-fed by cultural (namely, West-Michigan-Christian-Cultural) ideas rather than turning to Scripture and wrestling with the content. I often went to chapel in college with the motive of being noticed, and I still carry the fear of being judged in my absence. Sometimes, I feel social pressure in church to raise my hands while worshiping, when in reality, I don’t actually feel prompted by the Spirit. I say “yes” to too many “good” things, without the realization that God’s Will for our lives doesn’t mean to participate in all things, but rather to simply participate in gratitude of His grace. And worst of all, I fall into patterns of believing that I am righteous by what I do, not Whose I am.
You see, these lights are a mere imitation of the one true Light, and sometimes it’s almost easier as followers of Jesus to create our own “lights”, blindly convincing ourselves that it’s in the name of Jesus. Our own agendas- (even those with good intentions)- are simpler to follow than surrendering to the Light…in the same manner that following our own alarms and lamps is easier than living by the sun. However, I believe mornings were created for waking with the sunlight, cold toes, and good coffee with loved ones. Proverbs 4:18 says that “[t]he path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter until the full light of day.” I am far from righteous apart from Christ’s grace, but I can’t help but notice that even Scripture compares the waking, rising sun to our settling into that grace. That lovely morning with my dear friend Chip helped me gain further insight into God’s reflection in the cycle of the sun. Morning light is a humbling, sweet-slow reminder that the rest of the day is not our own. Rather, the day belongs to Christ, apart from whom we cannot experience true Light.
- Erin // drews_barrymore