Before you call Pharisee, just hear me out.
Two things. By 'wake up early,' I mean earlier than the time your daily life begins. Waking up at 6:30 a.m. might make one person late for their biology lab, and it might give another person five hours they'd never know what to do with. That's one.
Also, I'll go right out and admit that I'm an early riser by nature. That's two. I get unusually cranky when I wake up late, and I'm a half decent human being when I wake up early.
Now, as a general rule, telling others they should be more like you because you're more like Jesus is risky business. Actually, as a general rule, this is bad, bad business.
But let me wonder out loud if early mornings are an exception. Feel free to disagree.
Back in junior year, best friend Tim and I got in the habit of waking up, reaching for our phones, and picking out the eye-crustys while devouring ESPN, Yahoo, and the latest vines. We'd scroll through virtual universes, occasionally hearing the other chuckle. This was our idea of quality time.
Of course, I still tried to give life on days that started like this. Of course, my heart still forgot to show up in conversations on days that began bright, quiet and early.
Still, I don't know about Tim, but after I stumbled out of bed each of these mornings I became a grumpy vortex, scanning the earth for all I could consume. I shoveled cheesy eggs into my mouth like they were my birthright. I still smiled at people as I passed them, but mostly to see if they'd smile back and make me feel good. My mind would wander off in conversations, and I had to run after it a good thirty seconds to bring it back.
Jesus says that you can tell a tree is good if it bears good fruit. Jesus also says that you can tell a tree is bad if it sucks up everybody else's fruit and never gives any away. (This is trevor's message version.)
Stick with this (limited) analogy a little longer: waking up early gives you a space to decide which tree you'll be today. Nobody wakes up with a list of people to blow off, mean mug, manipulate, or undercut.
If I get 10 bleary-eyed minutes before my day starts, suddenly I can see all these future interactions splayed before me: the chapel time hangout with the fam, the passing glances in the hallways, the "4 on a couch" youth group game tonight, the slight right exit from 394 East onto Van White & Dunwoody on the way home.
And though I was almost about to spend my day asleep, Love nudges me awake. Wake up, o sleeper! says Love, You're about to miss the entire point of this day. Give life. Look them in the eye. Share your struggle and try not to apologize. Take your deepest longings, pulsing amid the undercurrents of your ordinary life, and turn them over into prayer. Be nervous and do stuff anyway. Walk a little slower. You might just catch yourself a little joy, that scattered delight in being alive that Christ died to make complete. I remember that I do life with Jesus, the One who deserves the highest superlatives and lives the best verbs.
And that's why Christians should wake up early.
photo: dad-in-law and I, at (11 am) 5:30 am, (birdwatching) mostly praying