Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
It is widely agreed that Mark is actually the recorded recollections of Peter, which shows in the next verse specifying that Peter went looking for Jesus at this point. The experience obviously made a significant impact on him. Jesus had just had some very successful ministry, and the natural human response would be to stay and build on that. However, Jesus’ response was to spend time alone with His Father, listening to what He had to say. As a result, in obedience to His commission, he moved on to minister in other places as well. When Jesus Himself placed such a priority on spending time with God and getting lined up with Him, we certainly should do the same. We can certainly identify with the pressures Jesus felt, with all the expectations of the people around Him. We are never completely free from such pressures because society as a whole has expectations, and those who are close to us in various ways have specific expectations. That’s all the more reason to take time every morning to get quiet before God and receive His orders for the day. The very idea of getting up so early in the morning is somewhat “counter-cultural” in most places today, but the biggest barrier is our own inertia. We have to decide that time with God is more important than whatever TV show, or anything else, that might keep us up at night. Our need for sleep is fundamental, and simply sacrificing sleep, which is how a lot of people view morning devotions, does not hold up in the long run. We have to decide that morning time with God is more important to us than whatever tends to keep us up at night. That’s not easy when the world expects us to value those late-night activities. Japanese in general are often chronically short on sleep. Students, particularly from high school through college, have so many demands on their time that sleep is one of the first things to go. Then in the business world it only gets worse, and the lack of sleep is a major factor in the famous Japanese phenomenon of being “worked to death” (karoshi). After a recent case of that, it was found that the young woman in question had been getting about 10 hours of sleep a week. God certainly doesn’t intend for us to live – or die – like that, but we’ve got to make the fundamental decision to listen to Him first, before we consider all the other demands on us. Only then can we get the work/life balance we need to be healthy, happy, and successful.
I am deeply grateful to have had the example of my parents when I was growing up. They didn’t make a big deal of it so I wasn’t always aware of it, but time with God was indeed their first priority. I tried to emulate that when I was in college, more out of a sense of obligation than anything else, but it certainly didn’t last long. It was only after I was a husband and father that the Lord got through to me and I repented of my misplaced priorities, but it has now been over 45 years since I got into the firm habit of starting each day with God. I couldn’t be more grateful. As a pastor I deeply desire that everyone in my care have that same sort of relationship with their Creator, but I can’t force anyone into it. All I can do is pray and set an example, encouraging them by speaking the truth in love.
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. I had been wondering what I was to speak on Sunday! Help me get this into a clear outline, and prepare the hearts of those who will hear the message as well. May Your Word flow through me unhindered and undistorted, to break down the lying fortresses the enemy has set up in people’s minds and hearts, setting them free to be and do all that You intend, for their incalculable blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!