With the New Year I experienced an unexpected paradigm shift in the way I view and live my faith. It started with a quick little article that my pastor pasted to our church facebook page called Don’t Put Jesus First This Year – Seriously by Steven Furtick. I followed the link and took the few minutes to read it because the title was intriguing, and because our pastor is a big Steven Furtick fan. One year for Christmas he gave everyone on staff a copy of Furtick’s book, Sun Stand Still.
The article started by pointing out that we so often (especially when making resolutions) make ourselves these little priority lists: Jesus first, then family, then work, and down the list we go. The problem with that kind of thinking is, first of all, that it probably doesn’t reflect reality (for example, compare the number of hours you spend at work, with your family, and doing “spiritual things,” whatever those spiritual things may be.) Furtick’s main problem with this way of thinking though, is that it segregates faith from all of life’s other parts. Instead of Jesus first, then family, it should be Jesus, at the centre of my family life. Jesus at the centre of my work, and so on.
I agreed with what he had to say. But this was no earth-shattering idea for me. I think that most people of faith try and live a God-centered life in their way. I did the little ‘hmmm,’ shrug, move on to the next thing on facebook thing. I forgot about it. That was in December.
Also in December we bought an elliptical machine, used, from some family members who were employing it as a clothes rack. For the last two years we’ve had a family pass to the local fitness centre with a gym / pool / indoor track. But since my husband and I both got new jobs and relocated to a new neighborhood, our lives, especially in regards to our schedule took a pretty significant shift, and we found that we just weren’t using the gym as much (especially me). We decided not to renew our membership when it was up at the beginning of December. He bought a pass to a more serious gym that’s open late and where only serious, confident, muscular people work out. And we bought the elliptical for home. It was my favorite machine at the gym so I knew if we had one here I would use it.
And use it I have! It is so handy having it right down in the basement. I used it all through the holidays and managed to stave off any holiday weight gain. And it just felt so good to get regular exercise again. But when the holidays were over and I went back to work, it was time to establish a new routine. It became obvious to me that if I was going to use my elliptical on a near-daily basis, it was going to have to be at 6 am. 6 am has many benefits. Getting it over with, for one thing, since exercise is not my favorite thing to do. Doing it while my energy is up, rather than after work and dinner and homework and laundry and socializing and, and, and bffffffft. Then there’s the whole sweating issue. This way I could shower, get ready for the day and stay un-sweaty for the rest of the day. That’s important. So basically – Yep. 6 am. No brainer. Right? Right.
One problem. It has been my habit for seven years to get up at 6 am and spend my first hour with my coffee and my Bible.
In all that I have done in the last seven years, which was a lot, nothing – nothing – has impacted my life as much as that first hour.
Jesus has not been first to me on a figurative level. The literal first hour of my day has been his for a long, long time. I wouldn’t have traded that sweet hour for anything else.
Suddenly, my no brainer 6 am workout plan seems flighty, fleshly and foolish.
I was pretty conflicted about this for most of the month of December. I didn’t have to make the decision right away, but I knew January was coming and I was going to have to act get out of bed at the 6 am and make a choice.
to be continued…