Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. (Mark 1:35)
Relate: By nature I am a night owl. I often feel like my best, most productive moments don’t come until that sun sets. In college, I used to love watching the sunrise. It was the best way to end my day before heading off to bed. The sad thing is, I’m only half joking. My senior year in college I paid my bills by working as campus security. I was a rent-a-cop doing my rounds from 1AM to 7AM walking around on a college campus that had an 11PM curfew. For the first hour or so I was going back and forth unlocking various dorms for students that for one reason or another were arriving after that curfew. Between 1:30-2:00 things would settle down and one by one various dorms and halls would fall silent. Yes, H2W (Horton Second West) was almost always the last hall to fall silent. Yes also, that was the hall from which Pastor Will and his friends terrorized the rest of the campus.
From about 3-5AM was my favorite part of the shift. There was silence. I had an SUV and a little golf cart with which I could drive around but for the most part I preferred to walk. I began to learn what noises belonged in what buildings at what times. Each building seemed to have its own feel, it’s own ambience. Sometimes I would walk to the middle of the courtyard and for 15-20 minutes just listen to the silence. I loved it. The college was paying me to walk around and pray. You couldn’t ask for a better gig.
By about 5:30 it was back to business. I had paperwork to get filled out and then a set order for making sure all the buildings were opened and unlocked by 7AM. My goal was to get it all done by 6:45, head over to the cafeteria and join those there making breakfast. I had my own special omelette I would make and then take it over to the lake, sit on the top of the hill and watch the sunrise.
React: My schedule, my chronic lack of sleep, my workload and responsibilities during my senior year should have burned me out. I was doing to much. Way too much. It were those hours of silence at the end (and all too often) the start of my day that saved me. I needed that time. I still need such a time but am far less disciplined in making sure it is part of my day. I’m preaching to myself in saying this needs to be a bigger part of my private life once again.
After all, even Jesus needed it. Before dawn would break He was getting alone to spend time with the Father. Over and over again He would do this. He had a very narrow window, just a few years, through which He needed to accomplish His mission of saving the world for all of time and raising up the foundational men through whom the good news of this salvation would then reach every corner of the earth. One very common word throughout the gospel of Mark is “suddenly” or “immediately” (depending on the translation). Jesus was a man with a purpose. He was a man on task. He lived with a very real urgency. And yet over and over again He was making a point to get away and get alone. God Himself made daily prayer an essential habit in His life. How much more do I need to do so?
God, take me away. Help me to make it a priority, a desperate priority to meet with You, every day, before dawn breaks. I need You. I need to spend time with You. I cannot survive this world without it. Give me the discipline to enter the presence of Your glory, so that I can radiate You the rest of my day.