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I opened my eyes, took a deep breath and stretched. It’s an interesting feeling, waking up. For a few moments, it feels like your mind is blank—like a baby’s mind ready to be filled with knowledge. Anyhow, there I was lying on my bed adjusting my thoughts to a fresh new day. I turned my head towards the window. It was still dark. The clock on my bedside flashed 4:55am. Suddenly, my pleasant experience turned sour.
Those brief moments of peace were abruptly disturbed by memories of the previous night. I had skipped my evening worship and sat up late watching a movie on television. By the time it finished I was exhausted and I went to bed with a heavy heart, troubled with guilt. Upon wak- ing up the next morning, my fresh new thoughts were spoiled by flash- backs of violence and immorality. The clock hit 5:00am and the alarm went off, making me jump. Now I was facing my TO DO list for the day—I had to be at work by 6:00am.
It was a bad start to the day but I deter- mined not to be late so I quickly hopped out of bed, threw on some clothes and walked out to my car. The sun was rising and I watched as it turned the morning dew to ice on my windscreen. The icy breeze made me shiver. My thin jacket wasn’t warm enough on this winter morning. But I didn’t care so much about freez- ing. I felt that my heart was colder than the ice on my car. Sin had chilled my faith; my mind was numb with guilt. I tried vainly to comfort myself with thoughts of the peace I enjoyed when Christ was near.
I reproached myself on the way to work. “Why did you have to watch that movie? You fool! You big fool! Why couldn’t you resist?” No answer came. I felt I was the weakest fool on the planet. Then I consoled myself with thoughts like, “You only watched one movie. People watch them everyday. There are worse people in this planet than movie watchers!” I felt better—but it didn’t last long. I knew better.
It was this high and low experience that marked my early walk with the Lord. Iwould be near to the Lord one day but a couple of days later I would, sadly, fall under temptation. Sabbaths were a high time. It was easy for me to be a Christian on Sabbath. I was fed spiritually most of the day, and it was refreshing. I remember thinking, after hearing a great sermon, “Wow, this will keep me now for a few days”. The same thing happened when we had a really good Sabbath School. I would often ponder about the possibility of having victory after victory. How attractive it seemed to me—but how to get it? That was the question. This continued for a number of months, but thankfully, things were about to change.
My church was putting on a missionary training program in the new year, so I decided to go. One day, while I was at missionary college, another student and I were digging a hole in search of a leaking water pipe. As we dug, the conversation turned to the subject of personal worship. He mentioned something that stunned me. It was good though; like finding the missing piece in a thousand piece puzzle. It just made so much sense. He spoke of the importance of personal morning and evening worship as though his whole life depended on it—a new concept for me.
I wasn’t totally ignorant about personal devotion. I normally knelt next to my bed and ‘said my prayers’ before going to sleep. It was usually part of the daily routine. My evening prayers were often very brief, however, and as for my morning prayers, they weren’t much longer. We dug and talked that day, dug and talked, and the more we dug and talked the more I understood the value of personal devotion. My friend asked, “Do you realize that personal worship will prepare you to face the day? Do you have personal worship before we worship together?” I had to admit that I didn’t. God was doing some digging of His own in my heart that day.
I decided to try out my friend’s advice. Next morning I woke up half an hour earlier, hard though it was, and asked the Lord for His presence, being determined that He would hear my prayer in Christ. During this time, I felt a new and living power come to me through the study of the Word of God. I knew the Lord was near, giving me life.
Soon it was 7am, time for our morning worship. I walked out of my dorm feeling at peace with God. I was looking forward to facing the day. I walked towards our meeting place with something to share—the joy of an abiding Saviour.
That night I communed with my own heart upon my bed and was still, just like David wrote in Psalms 4:4. Many things happened that day and I briefly thought about them. Did I do the best for God? Was there anything I could have done better? Did I offend anyone? Could I have said anything to help someone? I talked with God as to a friend and listened to His voice speaking to my soul. Confessing my sins, I went to sleep, sure of the pardoning grace of Christ.
When morning came, I opened my eyes. To my surprise I woke up singing a hymn! Not out loud, but I could hear the song in my heart. I was singing the hymn, “Nearer my God to Thee”. I smiled with joy and thanked the Lord for such a pleasant rest and His wake up call. I knew what had happened; I fell asleep in my Saviour’s hands and I woke up in His arms.
I have since then woken up many times praising the Lord with hymns. It’s like the Lord is saying to me, “I have cared for you during the night, and now I have prepared your heart to worship Me”. Your soul wants nothing else but to spend that quality time with Him first thing in the morning. Com
During this time, the question that concerned me most was, “what makes a season of worship successful?” I began to realize that it’s really quite simple. By the end of my time spent with God, I had to be certain of four things, as found in God’s Word:
- that I was dead to sin (the old man)
- that I was living for Christ (the new man)
- that His will was clear and duty plain as day
- that His presence would go with me to give me strength for that day
Today, I know that living for Christ is a daily process of surrender. But this yielding to Christ should not only happen in the morning and evening—when Christ is first and last; it should happen throughout the day, that He may be best in everything. It is a moment by moment surrender. This places us under the care of God. When in danger of forgetting Him, His Spirit never fails to remind us of the choice we made to serve Him, assuring us that His grace is sufficient. His grace received today assures us of more abundant grace tomorrow, but it all depends on something.
Read carefully these next few words, especially the underlined ones, “…the gifts of Jesus are ever fresh and new. The feast that He provides for the soul never fails to give satisfaction and joy. Each new gift increases the capacity of the receiver to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of the Lord. He gives grace for grace. There can be no failure of supply. If you abide in Him, the fact that you receive a rich gift today insures the reception of a richer gift tomorrow.” (Desire of Ages p. 148)
Tomorrow morning, will you open your eyes with a song in your heart? Will you say with David, “The LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life?” (Psalms 42:8)