Before I even open my eyes, my mind races ahead to all the things I need to accomplish that day, of the lists I need to make, errands I need to run, whether or not I should take a shower and what I am going to wear.
Bleary eyed I drag myself out of bed and try to work fast and quietly in order to get as much done as possible before the kids get up. But this may not be the best way to start my mornings.
A number of years ago I came across some writings by Richard Baxter (1615-1691) and Henry Scudder (d. 1659) that talked about how to begin and end our day with God. Here are a few quotes about starting our day that have stuck with me over the years and I want to remember them often.
1. Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.” (Richard Baxter)
2. In the instant of awaking let your heart be lifted up to God for it is he that gives his beloved sleep, who kept you both in soul and body while you slept, who renews his mercies every morning. For, while you sleep, you are as it were out of actual possession of yourself, and all things else . Now, it was God that kept you, and all that you had, and restored them to you again, with many new mercies, when you awaked.” (Henry Scudder)
3. Let God have your first awaking thoughts. Lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest you enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.
Familiarize yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night’s rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonizing pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives. (Henry Scudder)
4. When you arise and dress yourself, lose not that precious time with impertinent and fruitless thoughts. This is a fit time to think upon the cause of why you need clothing … namely your sin. It will likewise be of good purpose to consider what the wise providence of God hath appointed to be the substance of your apparel, the rinds of plants, skins, hair, wool of brute beasts, and the bowels of the silkworm. It does magnify the wisdom, power and goodness of God in choosing and turning such mean things to such excellent use. So it should humble and suppress the pride of man. ” (Henry Scudder)
Alright, so that last one made me snicker a little. I’m not sure I can muster up enough brain cells in the morning to think about what my clothes are made of and how God has provided those materials for me. But it is great to hold the bar high.
I pray that I will be so single minded first thing in the morning, realizing that without God I cannot accomplish even the smallest task like simply waking up.