If you’re like me, waking up can be hard. Here’s what I mean.
You wake up, and what happens? Instantly, without any effort, before your feet hit the floor, a million different things come rushing into your mind. All the things you have to do, all the places you have to go, all those things you left unfinished yesterday, and what you will not have time to finish today. Why is it that it only takes two minutes to feel that our day is already loaded as soon as we wake up? Are our days really this full?
The answer is easy, but hard to say while lying under such a weighty to-do list: No, our days are not that full.
What we need as soon as we wake up are big, God-centered, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting promises that fill our souls up to the brim. When we are reminded of these promises the “things we have to do” suddenly don’t seem that pressing.
Matt Reagan, over at the Desiring God Blog has written a wonderful article about this very thing. Enjoy, and may your mornings be calm and centered in God’s presence.
I wake up lost every morning. At least that’s what it feels like. Perhaps something similar is true of you.
Somehow during the night I’ve forgotten the big realities about God and the universe and myself and the gospel. I desperately need to steady myself with biblical truth rather than stumbling forward to live from unbelief.
I tend to forget the big realities during the day as well. I regularly catch myself living on the idiotic assumption that I will constantly remember the things that really matter — and that I will act in line with them. I assume that the realm of the seen and touched will not overwhelm the realm of the unseen and hoped for.
But in reality, whether it’s night or day, I don’t stay awake to what’s truly important for very long. I am like that college kid who sits in church on Sunday morning trying to keep his eyes open after an irresponsibly late Saturday night. My eyelids droop by default, and my mind wanders from the glories of the Bible to superfluous, naturalistic daydreams (that may or may not end with an embarrassing full-body twitch that snaps me awake again).
So I’ve learned over time to put structures in place that remind me of those unseen things, especially during my bleary-eyed, half-conscious mornings.
One effort is this list of ten truths. I hung it up next to our dining room rocking chair (my preferred spot for study and contemplation). It’s developed over the years as a list of the daily reminders I need most. Many of them overlap substantially, but a double reminder only reinforces the original purpose.
I’ve added a short commentary for each in hopes that something here might help you in your pursuit of remembering the biggest truths that we can be prone to assume and forget.
It seems so simple, so basic, but I tend to wake up a naturalist, and a narcissistic one at that. I assume that all there is in the world is what is in front of my face. My bed, my wife, my kids, and most importantly myself. The simple yet ultimate existence of God immediately clears my lens, makes me small, and infuses meaning into every step. God exists — and that changes everything.
Another massive biblical reality, this immediately counters my hesitation to embrace God’s ultimate authority, reminding me that he has set his affections on this little speck of a person. He is far from indifferent toward me.
This draws me quickly to the central reality of all history: the cross. It is an objective truth set in time and space, so it immediately draws my gaze away from my own capacity to garner acceptance from God through my efforts. Furthermore, the outworkings of the cross make clear that even the harshest trials will come to me as blessing, for my ultimate good, no matter how bad I feel at the time.
My self-absorption, anxiety, and self-pity know no bounds. They must be beaten into submission by the beauty of imputed righteousness. The question, “How am I doing?” is met head-on with the answer, “Perfect.” In that regard, every day is a good day.
There are two main purposes here: first, to counterpunch when my flesh looks for a way to subtly claim credit for the perfection that is mine only in Jesus; second, to maintain a sense of trembling gratitude for my salvation. While I enjoy the glory of the gospel, there should always be an awestruck voice in the back of my mind that is whispering, “I shouldn’t be here.”
Nothing brings clarity to me like this simple and straightforward reminder. How quickly I assume my earthly immortality, and how often I need to think of myself as a terminal cancer patient.
I don’t want to be a clear-headed fearer of death, like some atheistic poet. I want to glory in the guarantee of indescribable bliss that is just around the corner. And I want to live like it’s real — because it is.
8) For now, you are an exile on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13–16)
This keeps me from feeling at home when I’m not at home (especially in my own home). It prepares me for not fitting in, for weird looks when I speak with conviction about Jesus, and for holding loosely to every bit of earthly life.
This is a practical specification of #8. It is right for me to remember that I will inevitably be disappointed by every earthly pursuit or relationship or emotional experience. It runs me back to my true Home and the true Bridegroom.
This is a summarizing application of all the previous reminders, but it merits its own slot. How quick I am to become “blah” when there is a treasure trove of happy reality at my disposal! I must beat this into my discontent little brain. I can be plenty unhappy, but I have no right to be.
These reminders flee from my mind like stray socks in an armful of laundry. Every time I pick one up, another falls. By the time I read #10, #1 is beckoning again. What a grace that #4 is still true!