A while back, I considered myself to be the proverbial “morning person“.

Joyous, chipper, downright aggravating to those who weren’t.

I guess I took a cue from my dad on that. As far back as I can remember, dear old dad rose before the chickens. Oh, the frustration I recall from his early morning “thunder walking” through the house (NEVER figured out how one man can mimic the sound of a multitude elephants thundering through a jungle). I still don’t know if his pre-dawn marching noise was an intentional ploy to awaken his slumbering boys (though the whistling and subsequent singing routine that accompanied the thunder march has me leaning toward yes, this was a calculated action…yes indeed). Mom played quiet in the early morning hours., but noise wasn’t needed from her…for if I somehow managed to sleep through his a.m. acoustics…I’d soon be awoken by the scent of bacon, eggs and coffee.

Eventually, I gave in. I surrendered to the tactics of my enemy…uh, parents… “If you can’t beat’um, join’um“, right?

It took some work but in time, I became a morning person. At some point I transformed into the guy who needs no alarm clock, the kind of fellow with discipline to get to bed early and get out of bed in the same fashion.

THEN I married Judy Annette Caudell….and everything changed.

Oh, when we were dating, I still had my disciplined sleeping pattern mojo. If we were chatting by phone, she knew the rules…conversation ceases and sleep ensues at  10:00 p.m….sharp. No exceptions. Talk fast, baby. talk fast.

When I hung up and the phone clicked it’s receiver (YES, this was a while back), I was out in good old Franklin County, Ga. However, the Searcy house of Conyers was still hopping. 10:00 p.m. for me=quitting time. 10:00 p.m. for her =time to begin a movie marathon. I guess Paula Abdul was right when she said “Opposites Attract“.

I’d love nothing more than to tell you that upon our blissfull marital union, I rubbed off on her. I’d love to be able to say that she took my cue and was soon snoozing by 10:00 p.m., rising by 6:00 a.m..

I can’t.

Though I’m not much for TV and don’t care for movies, I do like her. A lot. So though I didn’t start staying up late for the sake of the latest installment of a TV series or to watch a particular movie for the 1st or 1,000,000,000th time (still don’t get that. Why watch something that you’ve already seen?…with Lonesome Dove being the exception, of course), I did stay up to hang out with her.

Of course, even with my newfound late night routine, I had to keep my early rising intact. That whole “real world, real responsibility, need to keep your job” thing doesn’t allow for slackers.

Something had to give…and it did – my ability to really have a “good” morning.

Gone was the joyous attitude, the jolly expression, the ability to even halfway function. I was no longer a morning person. At. All.

And In crept a strange sleep pattern that if not careful and terribly disciplined, I can struggle with today….and ramifications.

Poor discipline in this area of life carries stiff penalties

*Obesity – unhealthy snacking is far more likely to take place for night owls (better than 75% more likely, actually)

*Sickness – those who go to bed late are more prone to sickness, disease and they lack the ability to ward these things off due to a weakened immune system.

*Decreased Productivity – I read an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that linked poor productivity to a lack of discipline and consistency in the area of sleep. Simply stated, night owls/late risers are not able to function at optimum level. Argue if you please, but it’s a scientific impossibility to do your job (whatever it may be) as well without adequate and consistant rest.

*Wore Out – our physical bodies are gifts from God. We have the responsibility to care for them. They are not built to run without disciplined ceasing.

*Long Term Health Problems – the same study I cited earlier mentions that those who stay up too late, sleep to late, or function without adequate rest are far more likely to develop heart disease, suffer mental illness, and yes, die an early death than those who have disciplined themselves.

100% fact – poor sleep patterns are detrimental to our physical health

BUT aside from obvious physical isses….At the end of the day, we’re talking about a spiritual issue. We may not like to view it that way as we compartmentalized issues like this so often. You know, “this area is spiritual in nature” while “this one isn’t”. That’s one of the reasons so many believers excel in the area of Biblical scholarship and yet come up so short when choosing what’s for dinner and how much he should eat. It’s Why some are proficient in prayer yet neglect a call to holiness when it comes to what we watch on T.V. It’s why some men can lead their church so remarkable well and yet lead their family so remarkably poorly. In our minds, some aspects of our lives matter to God, others not so much.  With this line of thinking, excusing certain sins becomes a relatively simple matter.

But in the grand theological scheme of things…everything matters. Every aspect of our being is spiritual in nature…so we must treat them that way.

Take this area that I’m dealing with today (and dealing with it because of personal conviction, mind you…I’ve got to get better here, for the good of man and the glory of God). Being disciplined in the area of my sleep patterns and disciplined consistency cannot be cast aside as an insignificant aspect of my spiritual life.

 This is a spiritual issue. The benefits of rising early are numerous and well-known. Scripture exhorts us to get out of the dog-gone bed: “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You” (Psalm 63:1). The wife who “rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household” is praised in Proverbs 31:15 while the one who sleeps late is called sluggard:  “As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed” Proverbs 26:14. Fact is, Jesus was cited as being up and praying “before it was day”.

So what we’re talking about is an important aspect of our spiritual lives (unless, of course,  you removeportions of scripture that won’t jive with your own lack of discipline. Call it what you will, but it’s sin to ignore the whole of Scripture…or the portions that we deem unimportant by our own actions). Fact is,  Some will even read this blog and consider it legalistic, nitpicky or an intrusion upon their lives…proving the point that some things matter to us spiritually, and others don’t….that some sins are an affront to God but some aren’t.

YET, deep down….We KNOW that’s not the case….So lets move forward in obedience in this area just as we would any other.

Let me, one who admits to struggling here and has committed himself to honor Christ in this area,  take the liberty of giving a few recommendations to consider to that we can have a “good” morning again.

*Understand That This Is A Spiritual Issue – we’ve already covered this so we won’t re-hash it. I’ll only say that if change here is birthed simply from a desire for physical benefit (of which, there is) it’ll never last. When this becomes what it really is…a issue with spiritual significance, we’re more apt to take it seriously long-term

*Establish A Pattern – scientist agree that it takes 21 days to develop a habit so use that to your advantage. For the next 21 days, discipline yourself to go to bed and wake up (actually GET OUT OF THE BED) at the same time.

*Make Mornings Worth Getting Up For – this will vary depending  upon the individual but make sure you have purpose and enjoyment to look forward to getting up early for. For me, I don’t see flipping on the TV as something that would add so much value to my morning that I’m excited to wake up for it (but that’s just me). Time in the Word, prayer, meaningful conversation over coffee with my spouse (FAR more beneficial than staying up too late with them for the same purpose), fellowship and fun with the kiddos…whatever floats your boat, establish a reason to get up. If you have no tangible reason to get up early, you likely won’t.

At the end of the day, you will benefit spiritually and physically from a early bed-early rise kind of life….and those around you will as well. It matters.

Soli Deo Gloria! – Pastor Kyle

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