Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get up Early: My Custer's Last Stand

The third aspect of my assignment was to do my devotions first, at the beginning of the day. I never failed to do my devotions, but I did them at night. And it was here that my flesh put up a determined, all-or-nothing fight to not yield. My flesh was NOT going to sacrifice those precious moments of sleep if it could help it.

I must add, by the way, that I had been feeling like I should do this since at least 2006, so this was a long-running struggle going much farther back than the other two assignments. And I found that no matter what I did, I simply could not prevail against myself.

I would go to bed with the best of intentions of getting up early the next day, but sleep would totally erase them from my brain, and by the time the alarm clock rang, the only thing I could think of was indulging in as much sleep as possible before I absolutely had to get up and go to work.

This made me sad, because it was like God would whisper to me, "Do you love sleep that much more than you love me?" I could get up to go to work, but I could not get up to make my appointment with my Savior. I could get up at, say, 3 am if I was going on a trip, but I could not get up at 6 to meet with Jesus. I could get up consistently every day at 6 if I had to be at work by 7, but if my work schedule changed and I didn't have to get there until 9, suddenly I "couldn't" get up at 6 anymore.

The flesh had declared its intentions. No surrender! This is not going to happen.
The spirit declared its intentions. Oh, yes, you are going to do this, and I'm going to fight until I succeed.

And so, the battle raged. And raged. And raged.

One of the early skirmishes involved a plan where I determined to fill out an "Accountability Sheet" that I invented for myself. I set myself a period of one month in which I answered nine questions:

1. What time did you go to bed last night?
2. What time did you get up this morning?
3. Was your alarm set?
4. What did you read in the Bible today?
5. Did you pray today?
6. What time did you leave Edith's? (At the time I was spending the night with an elderly neighbor)
7. Account for the time you spent today. What did you get done?
8. Was there anything else you should have gotten done?
9. Was there anything you did that you shouldn't have done? (In other words, did you waste any time?)

I did this faithfully for an entire month, and I was trying really, really hard to improve. In my mind's eye, I saw a graph of my bed times and waking up times, with a gently descending line that settled on a sensible bedtime and arising time and then fixed there for the rest of the month. My goal was to go to bed at 10 and get up at 6.

When the month was over, I plotted my actual points on a graph in my journal. Here is the graph.
Chaos! I was dismayed. And this was when I was trying. I would hate to see what it was before that. Still undaunted, however, I determined that the fight must go on. "Now I see where I am and how far I have to go," I said to myself. "So I'll do it for another month, and surely I'll see some improvement."

Here is the second month's chart.
Still chaos! Sure, my bedtime evened out. But that was not the point. The point was to work on my waking up time. The point was to arrive to a state where love for God could get me up out of a warm, comfortable bed, to go kneel on a cold, hard floor in prayer, because God was that worth it to me. The point was to achieve self-discipline and go by the rules I had set for myself, not by the frenzy of emotion that the moment of the alarm clock's ring produced in me. The point was to love God more than I loved sleep. Funny how every night before I went to sleep, I could convince myself that finally, today, my love for God was going to be enough to get me up, but every morning when the alarm clock rang, I couldn't think of anything but, "Just give me a few more minutes." And those few minutes inevitably lasted until the moment where I panicked and said to myself, "There's no way I'll be able to get ready and get to work on time if I don't get up." No time now for a quiet hour of stillness before the King of Kings. Now that hour was used up and I barely had time to shower and dress for work.

So that skirmish left me pretty much where I was before. Many more skirmishes were to come.

Next Post: Get Up Early: Skirmish #2
Previous Post: Learn to Pray
First Post: Tutored under the Master Professor

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! I love comments! You have just made my day! :-)