This week, the popular gospel artist Tasha Cobbs Leonard appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. A regular show which features some of today’s top artists performing in a small corner of the NPR office. Starting off as featuring many up-and-coming indie artists and branching out to feature a broad range of acts such as Anderson Paak, Khalid, Yo-Yo Ma, Tyler The Creator, Tom Misch, Mac Miller and even Sesame Street recently!
This week I bought an alarm clock. I bought it for two main reasons.
- I'm not a morning person. I'm also self-employed. Meaning I'm often working late into the night until my eyes won't stay open and then waking up at whatever time in the morning, or repeatedly hitting snooze on my phone. My alarm clock is on a table at the end of my bed which means I need to actually get out of bed to turn it off. It's a way of disciplining myself to get up early and start the day.
- I don't want the first thing my eyes see in the morning to be a screen. The problem with my phone being my alarm is that as soon as I've switched it off, I'm met with a screen full of notifications - calendar, emails, tweets, things I need to do. And that's not a great way to start the day.
It's this second point that I want to spend a little more time discussing. I've recently been reading John 15 a lot. The chapter where Jesus speaks about abiding in Him.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" - John 15:4
It's been getting me thinking about how I can do a better of job of abiding in God's love in my day to day life. And one of the practical little things I thought of doing was spending the morning either reading the Bible, praying, or both at once. In doing this I realised something really simple, but important.
IT MATTERS HOW YOU START THE DAY
It really does matter how you start the day! I find that however I start the day sets the atmosphere of that day. When I start the day being faced with my job list and incoming emails, the first thoughts of my day are the things that I need to do. From the moment I'm awake my mind is on a to-do list. But when I start the day with prayer, or with the word of God, I have the opportunity to set the mood of the day rather than having it set for me. I can start the day from a position of thankfulness, or praise.
"My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up." Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)
Even on a busy days where there's a lot to do, it helps to bring those things to God in prayer. To the one who can actually give me the strength, energy and joy to carry out those things.
"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14.
In all honesty, I'm not always the best at doing this. There are days where I crawl out bed and check my emails, or spend half an hour watching videos of cats on Vine while eating breakfast. But it's much better to connect with the True Vine, Jesus. (boom!! Christian pun! #relevant)
But, in all seriousness, I can tell the difference when I start my day spending time with God. Even for a somebody who's not great in the morning, just 10 minutes reading through a psalm or a passage of scripture and a mumbly prayer where I forget what I was praying about in the first place is a better start to my day than the notifications screen. My favourite thing is to take one verse or phrase, and pray that back to God. Even just repeating it over and over, that's easy enough in the morning. However small it feels, it kick starts the day's conversation and dialogue with God, and that helps me to continue it throughout the day.