5am

All sense of adulthood leaves me at 5am. It’s a good thing that I don’t often seen that time of day because it’s not where I shine.

But it’s more than just the early morning grumbles. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge and understand that since I had my children I’m much less of a morning person. Because my day starts at 90 miles/hour worth of conversation, spilled milk, tatty hair, lost socks, and “why do I need clean underwear anyway”. It’s not an easy transition into day.

But that’s not 5am. My day usually starts about 7am with time to myself, maybe a little exercise, and then the surge of child-noise-bodies into the reality of my day.

But that’s not 5am.

5am is the time when I wake up scared.

5am is the time when I wake up worried and brooding over details of my life and other people’s lives that are out of control and out of my realm.

5am is the time when, if I wake up, it’s harder to get my feet under me, spiritually as well as physically.

I don’t know if you have those points in your life, that time of day when you wake and reserves are low and your eyes are clouded by the things that you should and could very well leave in God’s hands but just can’t seem to find his strong shoulders to rest them on.

We all have our 5am.

And there are times in life when 5am is an everyday and times when 5am is a rarity.

But they do come.

In those times when I wake and worry and brood and sometimes cry with the not knowing about sickness or health, riches or poor, faith or lack of faith, I have to strain to find God through the head chatter.

Because I want my mind transformed but can’t always dig deep into his truths in the place between awake and sleep.

Because there are times in all of our faith where it’s 5am and we’re not adults.

Times when we curl up into a ball and want everything to be different and want the sunrise to come.

Because with the sunrise comes help and hope.

In 2 Peter 1, the apostle Peter talks about the hope that we have in Christ.

“as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19b

There will be times when we feel lost in our circumstances. When we don’t know the way out. When we don’t know how to help or how to hope.

And we panic and try to manage and manipulate and when we come to the end of our own understanding we feel like there’s nothing left.

But God is our light shining in a dark place. His faithfulness is new every morning and in the depth of the dark, he is there with us.

His promises are true and faithful. He has never steered me wrong.

At 5am, the time of heavy heart and clouded eyes, when I feel lost and vulnerable, I choose him. I choose the hope in sunrise and light in the dark. And his words resonate in my ears and heart. I remember his faithfulness and promises and hope starts to burn a steady small flame.

Because just as my children cry out in the middle of their dreamt terrors, I cry out to the one who helps me. And I seek him.

I seek the one who knows my face, the hairs on my head, my triumphs, my worries, my dreams and my fears. The one who goes before me into my day, into my life, and shelters me on all sides.

Because he is my help. He is the one I call at 5am, 11pm, morning and evening, he is with me. Days, hours, years don’t matter to him. I matter to him. My life and situations and circumstances matter to him.

And he is in the red glare of the digital numbers, where after wrestling with my thoughts, I can settle back into his peace.

He is in my 5am.

 

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Administering the Grace

This Sunday I’m doing something I haven’t done for about a year. And I’m nervous. Where in my last church I was on stage participating in leading worship for 7 years, it’s been a year since I was last on stage.

And this is a new church. And a new situation. With new people. And new songs.

So I’m nervous. I’m nervous because I don’t know the drill. I don’t know all the personalities. I don’t know what to expect.

It’s unfamiliar and yet, something that should be as familiar as walking (not as familiar as breathing, because I have to choose to walk and don’t do it for long stints everyday…well, you get the picture). But pretty familiar.

And I know it’s not about me. I know that and fully believe and internalize that. I am a conduit, a way to facilitate a place of worship for others. A person who worships by example. My heart knows my role.

But I’m still nervous.

But if I remember that leading others in worship is ultimately about loving others, it changes my perspective.

Love was a theme in my devotions and my devotions with my oldest this morning. 1 Corinthians coupled with 1 Peter.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

As faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Whether I’m on stage in front of the congregation, in the nursery, feeding those in need, stacking chairs or sorting used clothing, I am a faithful steward of God’s grace.

What a privilege it is. And what a release.

Because I’m not always a gracious person. I’m not always in the mood to serve. I’m not always ‘in a good ministry place’ because sometimes I think people are kind of jerks.

But my grace, which is so very finite, is not the grace that I’m stewarding. God’s endless grace is poured out through me, through my love, hospitality, attitude, gifts, words, and service.

But if I’m to know this grace and freely pour out this grace, I need to absorb it. I need to realize my own need for God’s grace and actually accept it.

To realize that I don’t work my way to God’s love and mercy, I serve him in response to it.

That I need to acknowledge my own need for grace before I can lovingly show God’s grace to others.

Because if I secretly think serving others is my way to grace, then I’m trying to be perfect in God’s eyes without the need for God.

And if perfection through self is my goal, that leads to judgement of others’ imperfections because they’re not trying as hard as me. ‘Don’t they care?’

When I realize God’s grace to and for me, then my loving response to him and others is to steward that grace. Another translation says to administer God’s grace. I like that. Because if I’m administering something, I’m not necessarily expected to be the source. But I am responsible to share the knowledge with others through action and words.

So in my service, in my nerves and uncertainty, I point others to God’s grace. I love God and love them and the grace flows.