It's sad how rare the morning is I meet with God before the sun is up, yet how rich the day that follows always is. Without fail, when the posture of my heart is the first focus of the day, I cannot help but experience joy.
Whether reading or praying, I've noticed at the conclusion, my focus always turns outward. I feel an urge to talk to someone, to send an encouraging message, to offer some act of kindness.
That's the point, though, right? We are healed to heal others, instead of remaining hurt and, therefore, hurting others.
This feeling, this idea, shouldn't feel so novel, but I can't help but remark at the vitality, the pure energy, I feel even as I'm writing this.
I texted my Mom early one morning last week. It was from one of those overflow-of-the-heart moments. Her response brought me to tears.
Had I not met the day with expectancy, I would have quickly moved into the rush and routine and missed the sweet experience of connecting with God then connecting with others.
Discipline is so hard, though. Everything in our nature tries to work against it. I can see something and experience it and see that it's good, yet still struggle with making it regular in my life.
The same is true with eating healthy and exercising. I always feel better, stronger, and have more clarity in thought, yet I go long periods of time with no discipline.
The simple is never easy. We've debated for centuries endless systems of theology, yet if we really look at the nitty gritty, the biggest challenge we face is the simplest of applications:
Love your neighbor.
Forgive your offender.
Pray for your enemy.
Take care of orphans and widows.
Principles and truths are great, but it's experience that gives them life. And the more experience I gain, the more I realize how hard these simple ideas are.
Take for example forgiveness and praying for your enemy. It's easy when your experience of being offended is someone cutting you off in traffic. It's excruciatingly difficult when your experience is someone destroying your family.
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."
Simple. Not easy.
I can't even wake up at the same time every morning or maintain a routine of exercising. How much greater is the challenge of the high calling on our lives to love others in the name of Jesus?
Most of what I'm learning these days points to the same conclusion: I need more and more grace in every part of life. I don't say that in some self-deprecating, woe-is-me lament. It's just the reality.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
When I can't maintain discipline, when I feel the need to "labor," when I struggle to forgive, when I am challenged to pray for those who hurt me, when I feel like even the simple is hard...
...He says come find rest.