Sunday, January 26, 2014

the early bird gets the worm...

The other day I was putting laundry away and helping to tidy up my girls' bedroom when I came across this little glass wormy creature.  Seems this house full of kids is also full of little things...legos, polly pocket and Barbie accessories, rainbow rubber bands (yes...a ton of those tiny stretchy things).  Sometimes I'm not sure where to put everything.  So they get thrown into a pile or a little trinket box until they find their proper home.  
But this worm, that has probably been moved from trinket box to trinket box, (because really, where do you put something like this before it finally makes its way to the trash?) had me thinking otherwise.  As soon as I picked it up, I thought to myself, "The early bird gets the worm."  So, I placed it on a dresser next to a decorative birdcage.  Seemed proper, don't ya think?
And it had me thinking about the deeper spiritual truth behind this.  The phrase, "The early bird gets the worm" is actually a proverb that is used to tell us to act early or immediately.  That if we do something right away or before anyone/anything else, we will have an advantage and be successful.

When it comes to tackling the tasks and demands of the day, this is true too.  See, to a bird, a worm is nourishment.  It's "daily bread."  The worm fills the bird with all things good and necessary to carry out its work for the day and to sustain life.

In a spiritual sense, we are no different. We need to feed on the Word of God for it too sustains us and brings life to our dry and hungry souls.  And we need to fill up on Him and His Word daily. I'm convinced that the best time to do this is early in the morning, before anyone or anything else places demands on us...for this alone time with Him gives us the advantage to successfully navigate through our day. 

I don't think it's necessarily wrong to choose another time of day to spend time alone with God.  But I do think we have a better choice to make by allocating the firstfruits of our day to Him.  It makes me think of the "Mary and Martha" story in the bible (Luke 10:38-42).  

"As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'  'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" 

Martha was busy getting the house and the meal prepared for the Lord and all of her guests.  These tasks needed to be done.  They were important and couldn't be ignored.  Martha grew stressed and frustrated as she worked hard prepping for this occasion and her sister sat back and relaxed with Jesus.  But, it was Mary who was recognized as choosing the better thing to do.  Mary chose to spend time with the Lord.  To make Him her first priority, even over the chores of the household and the many demands of the day.

The same applies to our lives.  God knows what is on our daily "to-do" list and what tasks need to be accomplished.  He knows we grow weary, worried and upset over all that is on our full plates.  He tells us the "one thing that is needed": time with Him.  That sacrificing our time to be with Him is not for loss, for it's in this time that He speaks to us and we listen to Him, just as Mary did.  And His word spoken into our hearts is something that "will not be taken away."

Not only will it not be taken away, His word will equip us to more efficiently respond to the demands of our schedule.  To manage our time.  Our attitudes.  And our hearts.  To respond with grace.  To trust Him more.  To have our minds and our hearts aligned with His.  

I wouldn't call myself a morning person.  I'm more like a morning turtle.  It takes me a while to get going...even with coffee in hand.  But, I look forward to my morning time alone with God before anyone else in the house awakens.  It refreshes me.  It fills my heart with joy.  It starts my day off on a fresh note, and better prepares me for the challenges ahead.  I covet this time.

I don't set my alarm every morning because I consider myself more disciplined and faithful.  I do it because I know how desperate I am without God.  I know I need this time with Him.  I need that holy fuel to gas me up for the day.  I need me daily bread. (Or daily "worm.")  I know that I am lost without Him.  I know that in my own strength and left to my own flesh, I will fail miserably.  And the days I miss out on this time alone with Him show the difference.  The proof is in the pudding.  My morning time with God is solely based out of recognizing my grave need for Him.  The bottom line: I don't like who I am without Him.  It leads to all things ugly and empty.  It's not even so much about choice as it is about need.  It's much like eating.  While we do eat by choice, we also eat because it is a necessity.  We need food to survive and flourish.  And just as we need to feed our bodies, we need to feed our souls.  Taking time with God each day does just this.

If this isn't something you do regularly, I encourage you to give it a try.  Start by setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you normally would wake up.  Or, if you are unlike me and can easily get yourself moving in the morning, start your day 20 minutes earlier.  (Perhaps it doesn't take you 10 minutes to brush your teeth and pour your first cup of coffee.)  Read directly from His word, or a daily devotional, or begin a prayer journal (or all of the above).  I promise that you will find this time rewarding and worth the extra minutes of beauty sleep.  It will recharge you more than those 20-30 minutes staying in bed ever will.  And If you are like me, 30 minutes will soon grow to an hour.  And eventually that won't seem like enough time either.

Seek Him first in your day.  Give Him the firstfruits of your life, your time, your day, and your morning.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." Matthew 6:33

"Sow your seed in the morning..." Ecclesiastes 11:6

"To proclaim your love in the morning."  Psalm 92:2

"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in Your word."  Psalm 119:147

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

"O God, you are my God, "earnestly" (Hebrew word "shachar": rising in immediate pursuit) I seek You..."  Psalm 63:1

"In the morning, O LORD, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation."  Psalm 5:3

"O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for You.  Be our strength every morning."  Isaiah 33:2

"The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.  The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears..."  Isaiah 50:4-5

"Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

"Bring the best of your firstfruits to the LORD."  Exodus 34:26

"Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed..."  Exodus 16:21

Even in the very life of Jesus we are given an example to follow:

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed."  Mark 1:35

And in Matthew 6:9-13, better known as "The Lord's Prayer,"  Jesus instructs us to go to God and ask Him to "give us today our daily bread."  He knows what we need to get through our day and He wants us to come to Him to receive it.   And what we need for the day, can't be gathered in the evening and saved to carry us into tomorrow.  Grace can't be stored and bottled.  It's a daily gathering.  And it will always be enough to sustain.  

Join me.  Choose what is better, and it will not be taken from you. 
Be the early bird who gets the worm. 

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