I’m up waaaaaay too early this morning. Why am I up? Because I’m getting old, and signs of my age are showing (and that’s all I’ll say about that). It’s really not that unusual, though. I’ve always been an early riser (just not generally this early), and I get some of my best work done early in the morning. I think I’ve written before about being an early bird, and as I sit reflecting this morning, the words of David come to my mind:

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You. Psalm 63:1-3

Seeking God early in the morning isn’t the only benefit that comes to early risers. Forbes magazine did an article outlining some other benefits of early risers. Among other things, it pointed out a 2008 University of Texas study which found that students who “got up early” earned a full letter grade higher than students who were “night owls.” I don’t know whether that’s really the case, or not, but I didn’t do too badly in college. It also noted that early risers tended to be better planners. I’m not sure that gene passed down to me. Planning? Not my strong suit!

Yet again, my mind hears the words of David:

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:1-3

This Psalm of David is one of the reasons that I end each of my blog posts with the phrase, “keep looking up.” It is a reminder for me to maintain an attitude of prayer as I go throughout the day. My early encounter is my reminder that life must be centered in Christ. He is my beginning and my end. It is my reminder that in those moments of great spiritual awareness, he is there. It is also my reminder that in moments of great spiritual distraction (Ok, let’s call that failure), he is also there. This reminder comes to me in the morning…every morning, both the mornings when I’ve rested well, and those mornings when I feel like I’ve awakened a bit, too early (like today, perhaps).

I most savor the quiet of the early mornings. It affords me a chance to simply listen. My phone doesn’t ring or buzz. The only distractions are the ticking of the clock, and the breathing of the dog (that is until I take out the computer to do email–can’t figure out why I can’t put that aside for a few moments longer). Generally, it’s a pattern of reading, then listening. Reading, then listening. Then, praying. I often write my prayers, too. Studies show early risers tend to be more focused. Yeah? I didn’t get that gene, either. I start to pray and my mind goes wandering, in a million different directions (and, believe you me, my mind CAN wander). Writing my prayers orders my prayers. If they’re not written, then they must be spoken, but I don’t even like to do that early in the morning, for I don’t even want my voice to break the silence. There is ample opportunity throughout the day to offer verbal prayers. The only voice I want to hear early in the morning is the Lord’s. Sometimes, I have to listen really hard, though.

I can’t really think of any drawbacks that come from rising early. Well, there is the little problem of by the time Vanessa gets up, I’ve usually been awake a couple of hours and I’m ready to talk. She just looks at me. The look reminds me to be silent again! And, I do! Also, rising early means I’m ready for bed by 9:00 p.m., on most days. Of course, one sage opined: “Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.” One out of three isn’t too bad, I suppose. I am as healthy as I’ve ever been (with the exception of those obvious signs of aging that sometimes wake us up in the middle of the night).

So, I’m up early this morning, and now, I’ll go take advantage of another of the benefits of rising early–exercise. After all, the study did say that early morning exercise boosts mood and fitness, as well as provides energy for the work day. Heaven knows, I need energy for the work day. It’s sermon day.

So, come on. Join me in an early morning routine. Sit, read, listen, pray. Oh, and sing. Remember this hymn:

Until next time, keep looking up…

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