When Cathy and I started dating, we were POOR college students. I'm not saying that we were poor students...at least Cathy wasn't. I'm saying that we were financially challenged. That meant that our early dates consisted of things we could do for free; things like take walks or play ping pong at our college's student center. Finally, though, the day came when we decided to attend a movie. It was springtime, beautiful in Phoenix and perfect weather for a drive-in. We got there, picked up some snacks at the snack bar and watched the intense drama. At least I watched the intense drama; Cathy fell asleep. Forty years later and the one thing we can remember about our lone "date-that-costs-money" is that the girl I loved fell asleep!
I discovered early in our relationship that Cathy and I seemed to be wired differently. She was a "morning person" and I was...well, I WASN'T a morning person! The reason for her movie slumber was that she awoke that morning at 4 a.m. to study for a test. I discovered, in fact, that 4 a.m. was the most common time for her to study. In her own words, "It was quiet then because no one else in the dorm was awake." For me, 4 a.m. was near the beginning of my sleep cycle. Who in their right mind would want to wake up at that hour?! (Yes, Cathy is in her right mind. Some friends told her that the only insane decision she ever made was to marry me. "It will never work," they said.)
After all these years, I would like to think that I influenced at least one or two positive changes in my bride. One thing I haven't been able to do, though, is to train her to be a "night person." She still gets up early almost every day. In fact, sleep pattern is one of the biggest areas where I have changed. Somehow my entire view of sleep has changed over the years. Most mornings I am up quite early...which means that I now fall asleep during intense dramas.
And I learned to LOVE the morning!
I came to love the morning for at least two reasons. First, I cherish those early hours when the neighborhood is mostly quiet and I can enjoy the solitude of a walk or a jog. Second, and far more important is this: I love the morning because it's the end of the night!
I discovered following my recent surgery how long and uncomfortable the night can be. The darkness seemed to intensify the normal physical discomfort of recuperation. That hardship is small, though, compared to the disquiet of nighttime spiritual warfare. Those experiences of attack by an enemy who knows me far too well and who creatively utilizes my emotional fatigue actually intensify the darkness. After such nights, I doubly LOVE the morning!
A long time ago, a man named Joel lived in the Middle East. He heard God speak to his heart and he saw things that he had to write down. He saw the darkness of his own generation, but he also saw much greater darkness in the future. God not only showed him darkness, but seasons of light. At the end of it all, he saw a vision of a brightness that was coming which would never end. His heart leapt toward that vision and Joel exclaimed, "Alas for the day!" (Joel 1:15) Joel couldn't wait for the Morning!
We will study Joel's writings beginning this week at Stone Ridge. It's our Summer Sermon Series and you will get the blessing of hearing messages from God's word from a variety of voices. If you miss a week, catch the podcast!