Growing up, eating breakfast in the morning was expected. I wasn’t going to get out the door without having first eaten or with something in hand to eat. My parents understood just how vital it was that I start the day out on something that would put me on a good path for the rest of the day. So that put candy, snacks, and junk food off the list. I was restrained to the normal breakfast foods: cereal, toast, pop tarts, and bagels. But there was one notable exception to that rule. Cold pizza.
Once in a blue moon, we would order a pizza the night before and still have some leftovers in the fridge the following morning. So my mom, out of a desire to get rid of leftovers, would occasionally allow me to eat cold pizza for breakfast. Now some of you may be gagging to yourselves right now, others may be craving pizza, but just to put it in context, I was only eight or nine at the time and can’t even eat pizza anymore due to food allergies. The point of the matter is what I craved in the morning was not always exactly what my body needed.
I very rarely woke up with a desire for carrot sticks and fresh fruit. I woke up wanting bacon and something else to clog up my arteries. It took discipline and time to move from the desire for sweets in the morning to desire for substance, and we see the same thing in our spiritual lives. The mornings are our moments of greatest spiritual inertia. We have no desire to move or be moved spiritually. We wish to trudge through mental weariness, wallow in morning fog, and plop into our daily routine. Any form of stimulation that inhibits this is considered unwelcome and outright indecent.
While we claim to despise this feeling of drowsiness, it is honestly one of the things we hold the dearest. It is the one ritual each day that we refuse to let anyone impede upon, and if they do, either intentionally or accidentally, we hold them personally responsible for ruining the rest of our day. We hold this feeling nearer to our hearts than anything else throughout our day. We like to deceive ourselves and say that things like time with family are what we treasure the most. But this ideal collides with reality when we realize that they are the ones who most often interrupt our morning routine and become the objects of our tired wrath for the remainder of the day.
If some of you are feeling convicted right about now, I would say good. So am I. We are all guilty of this, and it stems from one common problem. Selfishness. The reason we cling to those morning moments so dearly, those last precious seconds before we get out of bed, is because, in them, we place our entire focus on ourselves. We narrow our visions from God, our families, our responsibilities, the entire world, onto ourselves. We feel a sense of entitlement to that moment in time, as though it were our own piece of personal property. No one is allowed to touch in, but us. We take on the philosophy of Samuel Beckett: “Every word is an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.”
But God ensures us that this is not the case. “God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…” (Isaiah 45:2 ESV) He gives us our every moment and every breath on this earth. None of it belongs to us. It is all given to us by the One who created it.
So we have spent our mornings being selfish, self-focused, and self-centered, but none of this was intentional. At least, we hope that we didn’t just wake up in the morning and decided to take the day for granted. As though it were ours and we could conjure up a thousand more just like it if we so desired. So if it didn’t come from us trying to be selfish and short tempered, then where did it come from?
When we wake up in the morning and allow ourselves to seek our own interests first, we take the focus off of God and put it onto ourselves. And what do we know is the natural outpouring of humanity? Depravity, sin, and death. Those three words may perfectly describe our average morning right now. That is the place that our morning outbursts, impatience, and annoyances comes from. From within us. When we allow ourselves to eat the sweets of selfishness and self-serving in the mornings, we find that we pull from those same empty calories all day long, and by noon, we are totally spiritually bankrupt.
The answer to overcoming our morning mourning is to take that focus from ourselves and put it back on God. Before we do anything else, before our feet so much as touch the ground, we need to look with our still-adjusting eyes on the blinding light of God. It may be painful and just blurry at first, but we will find that the images we see, soon come into focus, as the God of the Universe greets us as we enter this new day He has made. And that will be the experience that shapes the rest of our day. No longer will we find ourselves impatient and frustrated, but joyous, grateful, and loving, as we now live out the outpouring of God into the world. Our focus is firmly planted on Him. And He is the substance that gets us through our day.
With the grace and guidance of our loving God,
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness”
Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV