It seems I've hardly closed my eyes when the alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. I hit the snooze a couple of times, then I get up. I do this every day. That hasn't always been the case. I used to let myself off the hook when it came to sleeping in on Saturdays, or hitting the snooze until the very last minute on a work day, because I have struggled with insomnia for years. There are two main reasons that I now get up at the same time every day. I've found that by getting up at the same time every day, I actually sleep better at night. I usually go to bed late, so burning the candle at both ends, so to speak, causes me to be more tired at night, thus allowing me to struggle less for sleep to come. But the main reason I get up early every morning, is because I
want need to spend time alone with God first thing. It is the most important part of my day. After I crawl out of bed, I love on my husband, then the dog, and then make a cup of hot tea. I then settle in to my recliner and begin working on my Bible study. After Bible study, I get my prayer journal and begin praying over the names and needs in it. This is my routine every morning. On Saturdays however I change it up a bit.
I was recently inspired by an article I read on another blog about having a "white space." You might refer to it as a time out just to be alone with yourself and your thoughts, away from the responsibilities and noise of life. My white space time is scheduled on Saturday mornings. After my quiet time I have two hours blocked. The time is currently 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM. I grab my Bible, journal, and camera, and hit the road. There is really no agenda for those two hours other than having no agenda, and being open to whatever comes my way.
This last Saturday I gathered my things together and was in a bit of a hurry because I was leaving the house late. I wanted to drive out of the city, into a clearing in the country where I could get a good sunrise shot. If I were a good photographer, I would have left at least 30 minutes earlier so as to arrive at my destination in plenty of time to wait for the sunrise, but I left just as the sun was rising. I left my home, hit I-40 east and was only a few minutes down the road when I realized my car was almost on empty. I began to pray. My prayer was simple and selfish. "Lord, let me get to a spot where I can capture the sunrise without running out of gas before I can get there." "I know I didn't prepare well. I should have left earlier, and I should have checked the gas tank BEFORE I got on the highway, but I really, really want to get some sunrise shots this morning!"
And like He so often does, he began to teach me.
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
His lesson was about being prepared. Not just prepared for the circumstances that arrive in my life on earth, but prepared for the eternal. Am I tending to the lasting things in my life, or am I spending too much time on the temporal? If my body dies today, and in a blink of an eye my spirit goes to face the Lord, will I be prepared? If he comes back before I die, will he find me unashamed? Fortunately, I am ready, but he so faithfully reminded me on this morning that I must tend to what is important. Gardens needing tending or the weeds will overtake. Oil lamps will burn out with no fuel.
The Lord was gracious to me that morning. I didn't make it to the clearing, but I kept praying that I'd find a spot where I could get a clear shot of the sunrise without running out of gas. And so you see by the pictures in the post, that my prayer was answered, and the sun didn't beat me. I was able to capture a beautiful sunrise straight out of the camera. I came up to the top of a hill and saw my shot, pulled over and began shooting. It was such a peaceful time, and I was so thankful for the sunrise and for the lesson God taught me that morning.
I sat for a few moments in my car, watched the sun, and looked at pictures. I realized I would have to turn and go home because my car was almost out of gas. I would have to cut my white space time short. I was parked on the side of the road with my car facing east into the sun. I needed to turn back west, but because the sun was so bright I couldn't see if any cars were coming so I decided to turn east instead. "Lord, help me get home without running out of gas." As I topped the hill, and came down the other side, I found myself stumbling upon on one more of God's graces that morning. I had no idea there was a gas station in that little valley between the hills. I guess I wasn't as far out in the middle of nowhere as I thought I was.
God is so good!