When you wake up, what is your first thought? Is it dread for the coming day? Or can you focus on something positive to get you started?
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence,
there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16: 11 ESV
A few years ago, I realized that often when I woke up and began to think about my day, I became discouraged. There was no prevailing reason simply a feeling of dread followed by guilt for feeling this way.
If you are the parent of small children, you probably don’t have the luxury of thinking before you get out of bed. More likely you have a wailing baby or a toddler jumping on you with lots of demands! Others of us have reached the season when we do have a few minutes to awaken and the time to contemplate. It can be a moment of rejoicing or a moment of feeling blue. It depends upon our focus.
I began to see that my mental default first thing was discouragement. Sometimes it was stress over a long list of “to-dos,” or fear for a child, or worry about a decision, or simply dread about the events ahead.
I knew that God did not want me to approach His day like this but what was I to do?
Paul gives us guidance in Romans 12:2.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)
How would I go about renewing my mind?
I realized that I needed to adjust my attitude, to shift from thinking about how I felt about my day to focus on God.
In the gospel of John, there is a scene in which Jesus is talking with his disciples as He tries to prepare them for His death. He says,
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV)
To stop my habit of thinking negatively as I woke up, I began to ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of one character trait of God the Father or of His Son that I could meditate on that day.
One morning I awoke paralyzed with indecision. There was a decision I had to make, and I did not know what to do. I didn’t trust my instincts. I needed Him to lead, to direct, to speak. But would He? I turned in my regular reading to Psalm 29 and saw repeatedly the phrase: the voice of the Lord. Yes, He would speak in His time, in His way. Sometimes His timing seems slow. I am impatient. But I can have the assurance that He will speak. The rest of the day I meditated on this fact: I have a heavenly Father who will speak.
Another morning I thought about the trait of HIS presence. He is a God of presence. And in his presence is fullness of joy! I even painted this on the wall at the foot of our bed so it would be the first thing I saw in the morning!
In His Word
Read Ephesians 1 and write down every character trait of the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit that you notice. Hint: notice verbs!
In Your Life
Each morning ask God to remind you of a character trait to focus on for this day. Keep a running list. Hint: On a walk or run or car drive, go through the alphabet listing a character trait that matches the letter, for example, A=Abundant, B=the God who loves to bless.
Susan’s book, One Devotional: One Word, One Verse, One Thought for One Hundred Days. This is a compilation of 100 of her favorite traits. It’s great to use as a family or give as a gift! Keep it on your breakfast table and take turns choosing the trait of the day. At dinner, share how focusing on this trait impacted your day.