What are your first thoughts and actions upon waking? Let Christ and the Scriptures be your goal every day and every waking day to come.
By Katrina Bazzoli
“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.” These were the first words I heard every morning coming from the bedroom next door. Upon waking, my grandmother always said “Thank you” to the kind Creator who gifted her another day. There are distractions everywhere, for all generations, but my grandma had it right. She didn’t reach for a phone, but instead, her first words were words of thanksgiving to the Lord.
I think about her example often. Especially as I sit here reflecting on Jackie Hill Perry’s devotion, Upon Waking. I can honestly say I struggle in this area. If you are anything like me, your thoughts upon waking aren’t always about giving gratitude for the new day and breath in your lungs. Instead, I need to see what happened in the world while I slept. I need to make a grocery list. I need to check my email to see if I’ve gotten a job interview request. A plethora of ideas and scenarios flood my mind before I thank the Lord.
Embrace the challenge
The title of Perry’s devotional alone—Upon Waking—will make you at least think about how you start your day. But there’s more to this 60-day devotional than just that. Often, devotionals train us to be satisfied with a minimal knowledge of Jesus and to develop a view of ourselves apart from a deep knowledge of Christ. We read the Scripture out of context and ignore who God says He is.
In return, we don’t love and trust the God of the Bible but a version of God who doesn’t holistically challenge or change our lives. All devotionals should point us to the Sustainer of the world, but unfortunately, we often look deeper within ourselves and simply intertwine Jesus to assist in bringing about our desires. Instead of our devotionals cultivating the desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), we hope to grow in the knowledge of ourselves unaccompanied by the cross and empty tomb.“All devotionals should point us to the Sustainer of the world, but unfortunately, we often look deeper within ourselves and simply intertwine Jesus to assist in bringing about our desires.” — @KatrinaBazzoli Click To Tweet
But Perry does more than challenge us to greet each day with thankfulness and communion with Jesus. She also challenges us to know Him more, which will ultimately result in us knowing ourselves in the only way that matters. Perry says it like this:
There’s this book called the Bible. In it are sixty-six other books that all point to, describe, and explain God. In ministry, it’s typical that the Bible so quickly becomes a tool for us or a mere resource, but this thing is alive. It will speak to you a new thing with the same words. Read to see His goodness, His kindness, His faithfulness, His beauty. Read to remember what He thinks about you and the world. Read it to remind yourself what has come before us and what will come after. Read it to see the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
In each day of the devotional, Perry exegetes Scripture in an engaging way, yet with rich thought and depth. Her words make the reader want (and often need) to read them again. This isn’t a devotion you pick up, quickly read, and check the box. Each page invites believers to truly ponder their relationship with the King—and the fact that “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, CSB).
A call to faithfulness in different seasons
Throughout our short time on this side of eternity, we go through many seasons of life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). As a woman who was single, then married, and now has a toddler, my time with the Lord in the mornings has drastically changed throughout the years. I remember feeling defeated going from what I thought was a solid time with the Lord most mornings to not opening my Bible for months postpartum. I thought if I couldn’t have time with the Lord in the way I used to, what was the point of doing anything at all?
The specifics of this struggle will vary from person to person and season to season. Transitions in life—a new job with longer hours or a longer commute, grieving a loss whether of a friendship, a death, or a dream, the list could go on—offer invitations to faithfulness in a new season. Instead of a cup of coffee with your Bible, maybe in this season, you are listening to the Bible on your drive. Or you’re meditating on a verse that is allowing you to remember who God is in the midst of suffering.“Transitions in life—a new job with longer hours or a longer commute, grieving a loss whether of a friendship, a death, or a dream, the list could go on—offer invitations to faithfulness in a new season.” — @KatrinaBazzoli Click To Tweet
Stay in His presence
You must fight to stay in His presence and not let the enemy convince you that a little time with the Lord is equivalent to none at all. The enemy loves when we think that way. We are not what we could be (and should be) when we aren’t consistently in the presence of God. Theologian and teacher Sam Storms says it this way: “God is most glorified in us when we are most pleased, satisfied, fascinated, and enthralled with the splendor of His beauty that can be seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”
It’s OK if—for whatever reason—your time alone with God looks a little different this season than it did in the last season. But upon waking, we can give something to the Lord. There is grace for the hard seasons, but this walk as believers also calls us to obedience, endurance, and discipline. Perry says it like this:
There is a cost for the faithful ones. But do you know what helped these saints keep going? Every single one of them didn’t allow the cost of their obedience to distract them from the God they were obeying. Noah obeyed because he feared God (Hebrews 11:7). And Moses endured by seeing the invisible God (11:27). And in the way of wisdom, we must do the same. Looking to Jesus, the eternal God, wrapped in flesh, crucified for sin, raised to life, and seated at the right hand of God must have our fear and focus. As long as He does, every cost will be worth it.
Our obedience to delight, even when we don’t feel it, will always be worth it.“Looking to Jesus, the eternal God, wrapped in flesh, crucified for sin, raised to life, and seated at the right hand of God must have our fear and focus. As long as He does, every cost will be worth it.” — Jackie Hill Perry Click To Tweet
More than teaching preparation
According to Lifeway Research’s Greatest Needs of Pastors study, 68% of pastors say they need to invest in developing consistency in Bible reading not related to teaching prep. Even if your job is in ministry, the Lord deserves more of your time than preparation time. He desires to truly know you and for you to know Him. Those whom you are shepherding also deserve to know what you are learning and how you are growing. Preparation cannot be the only time you spend with Jesus. Psalm 119:33-35 says:
Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your statutes,CSB
and I will always keep them.
Help me understand your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
Help me stay on the path of your commands,
for I take pleasure in it.
The Lord is faithful to hear the sincere prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:9). As Perry says:
God made you and redeemed you so that you may know Him. That’s the point of this book. To cultivate in you the desire for God. I can promise you that a sixty-day devotional cannot do that for you. God sent Christ to die for sin, overcoming the penalty and power of it so that you can know Him. And Christ sent the Spirit to fill the saints so that you can know Him. He is the sufficient one.
Don’t let simply reading a devotional be your goal upon waking. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great start. But let Christ and the Scriptures be your goal every day and every waking day to come.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.