The hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” poses the question, “Is this vile world a friend to grace to help me on to God?”
Of course, no, this vile world isn’t a friend to grace. But God in His grace, has put many friends in this world who are helping me on to Him.
I often picture what the events described in 1 Corinthians 3 will be like:
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
I know that I alone will be responsible for any work that doesn’t survive and is burned up. But the work that does survive? That’s a different story. I will receive a reward for that? Really? I surely will have to pass off that reward to the others who have helped me build.
And there are many who have helped and are helping me build. Some are friends I have lived closely with – Marcia, Bridget, Joy, Vivian, and Charisse come to mind. Some are friends I haven’t necessarily met in person, but who have been a means of grace in my life through their writing and testimony – Elisabeth Elliot Gren, Jim Elliot, Jay Adams, John Piper, Janelle, Nicole, Kristin and Carolyn and others.
But one friend will most definitely deserve my reward instead of me. Elizabeth and I, independently of each other, read Shopping for Time in 2008. A few months later, we were talking about the book and the topic of the “5 AM Club” came up. We both were burdened with not wasting the busy season of motherhood God had us in, and before the conversation was over, we committed to text each other wake up texts early in the mornings (not 5 AM, but still early for us!). And all praise to Christ, we are still texting each other early in the morning!
Being a night owl, I always preferred reading in the evenings. But then newborns and toddlers came along and my time really was not my own anymore. I needed to rise early if I was going to have meaningful time with the Lord. I think the sentences from the book that God used to get my attention were:
[Quoting Martha Peace] ‘I have heard of women who pride themselves on being “night people”. That means they have trouble getting up in the mornings because they come alive at night. They may stay up till all hours reading, watching television, or pursuing some sort of interest. They next morning they are too tired to get up and care for their family… these women are not “night people”. They are lazy and selfish. Who would not rather stay up late to do whatever they please and sleep late the next day? Once a young wife begins getting up earlier than her children and husband, she will cease to be a “night person”. She will be tired and go to bed at a reasonable hour so she will be there to serve her family the next morning.’
Guilty as charged! We’ve all been those lazy and selfish women- and continue to battle that temptation. Yet each of us can testify that our early morning time is often more profitably spent than our late-night hours.
And, although there still are those who are more productive at night, rising early has definitely made me less of a night person! It’s ironic then, that I’m writing this post after midnight, right? 🙂
The fruit that rising early has borne in my life is hard to articulate, but I will try. My husband describes spiritual growth in terms of what it’s like to see a child again who you haven’t seen for a few years. The child’s physical growth would be very obvious over time, but day in and day out, if one was watching the child, the growth would barely be detectable. I love that illustration because it reminds me that spiritual growth will happen over time and actually IS happening now. I might not always see it. In fact, I often am only confronted with how short I fall. But day in and day out as I rise early and sit at Jesus’ feet and feed on His Word, change is happening in this sinful heart of mine! And that change is helping me to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. So on the day when I stand before Him, there just might be some work that is not consumed. What a thought! And on that day, I surely will bow my unworthy self low to the ground and thank Him for people like Elizabeth, who helped me on to Him.