“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.”
– Psalm 143:8
I couldn’t get back to sleep this morning. I had gotten up to use the bathroom (a regular routine at this point in my pregnancy), and on returning to bed, busy thoughts and a busy baby conspired together to keep me up while the faint light of early dawn became a “you-may-as-well-get-up” kind of light.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’ve always struggled with setting aside the first part of my day to meet alone with God – to meditate on His Word and seek His presence in prayer. I’ve questioned many times whether or not it really matters when I do my devotions during the day, and of course, there is a sense in which it doesn’t matter. I don’t earn my acceptance with God by a daily routine; I receive it by trusting the work of Christ on my behalf. However, there is another sense in which it really does matter how I structure my day. Of itself, turning to the Bible and prayer first thing in the morning does not please God, for that activity can be done without accompanying faith. But, turning early to the means we have for knowledge of God and fellowship with Him can be the expression of a heart priority that greatly honors God. The expression itself can honor God as an act of faith. What’s more, not only can the act honor God, it can also be a means of further shaping the heart priorities of the one acting. Diligence in morning devotions can be a faithful preaching to yourself with your actions that every day, God is the most important reality in the universe, and that therefore, every day, seeking Him is the most important thing you can do.
Amidst my busy thoughts in bed this morning was the recollection of a poem I wrote over three years ago about turning early to God’s Word and abiding therein throughout the day. It was inspired by Psalm 1, which is about the “blessed” man who delights in and meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. Remembering that poem helped me resist the temptations to not turn first to my Bible reading when I ended up getting out of bed at 6:00am. It is a happy humbling when God uses His past grace in my life to provide me with grace for the present. And it’s my hope now that the poem blesses your heart as it has mine this Monday morning.
by Christina Faye Soukup
When dawn, with “rose-red fingers,”*
arouses sleeping trees,
an evil whisper rises –
a traitor with a tease.
Our roots will look for water
and if we don’t act fast,
the whisper takes them to the well
they’ve drunk from in the past.
Flee quickly to the words of God
and quench your thirst therein!
For drink held in the scoffer’s cup
induces trees to sin.
How I love Your law, O Lord!
What comfort it provides!
What joy I find when in Your Word
my fears and doubts subside.
The sun is hot this afternoon
and leaves begin to curl
on trees who, hopeful, long to feel
their leaves and buds unfurl.
Stay yet longing – deeper plunge
your roots into the stream
of living water, fresh and cool –
of water wholly clean.
Abide therein and soon you’ll find
sweet fruit comes in its season.
But sweeter is the stream itself –
the trees who drink have reason…
…to love Your law, O Lord our God,
to in Your Word find rest,
as day by day we grow in strength
and live the life called “blessed.”
*a favorite phrase of Homer’s in The Odyssey