I have a morning routine. I wake up between 4:30 – 5am and immediately check the weather and get dressed. It sounds weird, but we keep our house cold so I’d rather change into the clothes I am wearing for the day than change twice. And besides, it helps me wake up and gear up for my day. Then, I put on deodorant, put in my contacts, put on my favorite hoodie, and head to the kitchen. Next, I’m all about making a couple of cups of coffee while I write for at least 30 minutes. I want to make sure to read my Bible and pray, but then it is usually back to writing or reading.
Why do I get up so early? It’s me time. It’s the only part of the day I actually get to myself. Mainly, because no one else is crazy enough to get up this early. And when you have two kids, quiet time is hard to find. I only write during this time because I value my kids awake time and at night I want to spend as much time as I can with my beautiful wife, Alissa.
Let’s be honest for a second, this schedule doesn’t happen perfectly every morning. Sometimes I sleep through this time, because one or both of the kids wake me up several times during the night. Or Eliana decides her day should start at 5:45am. Time flies by early in the morning. You look up and the next thing you know Jonas is walking into the living room at 7am.
Like I said, I take advantage of the time alone, but I spend as much time as possible with my kids. When either of them wake up, they want to snuggle. I’m always up for holding them and squeezing them and telling them I love them. I love my kids and just want to spend as much time as I possibly can with them. “Enjoy these moments because they will be grown before you know it.” is a thought constantly swirling in my head.
There is a switch in my kids’ brain that shuts of daddy and the rest of the world when Alissa gets up, gets dressed, and graces the living room with her beauty. Mommy is the only living, breathing thing they want for the rest of the day. Our kids get disappointed when mommy leaves for work, and only want to sit by her when we have days off together.
My heart aches for my kids to want me like they want their mommy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way they adore her. She deserves it because she is so kind, loving, and gentle with them. She is the master at getting on their level and understanding what’s going on in their world. But, I understand too. I love them just as much, but you’d think I sucked the joy out of the room if I asked one of them to do something with me instead of mommy.
Eliana will turn to daddy to play if Alissa is busy doing something else. But, as long as mommy is in the house, I play second fiddle. She is the one they want to sit by them, play with them, bathe them, and put them to bed. We honestly have a “Mommy night” rotation. “Who gets mommy tonight?” Jonas and Eliana cry when it is daddy’s turn to put them to bed. I’d be lying if I didn’t have the urge to storm out of their rooms and slam the door. I’ve told Jonas a couple of times, “You don’t know how good you have it. Daddy grew up without a daddy. All I want to do is be here for you and spend some time with you.” Not my finest moment.
I find myself creating things for us to do together. Jonas started golf lessons in hopes that he would love it enough to give us something to do together. I enjoy those moments of one on one time with him. I love taking Eliana out for special days. Every year for Valentine’s Day, I take her on a date and buy her a pair of shoes. I mean what girl wouldn’t love dinner, dessert, and new shoes. When I get them away from everything else that can so easily distract them, we always enjoy our time together. Occasionally, they ask about mommy and do their own thing while I am trying to get them involved in what I have planned. But, for the most part, our time together is full of love and memories.
What I have come to realize is my relationship with my kids is a lot like God’s relationship with me. Sure, when I wake up I definitely want to spend time with God. I love cuddling up with Him through reading the Bible, praying, and listening. Sometimes it’s genuine and heartfelt and other times I treat God like just a warm body to snuggle. I get so easily distracted by other wants that He isn’t my priority. It’s comforting to have His presence, but as soon as something else comes along, I jump at the opportunity to enjoy whatever it is.
It doesn’t stop with our mornings with God either. All throughout the day He is talking to us and guiding us. We are just too busy with noble or not so noble tasks. As a pastor the temptation is to exchange our doing ministry for time spent with God. Being rich in good deeds is great as long as it doesn’t come at the cost of spending time with the Father.
God isn’t selfish, not wanting us to only spend time with him and doing nothing else for ourselves. Like any father, He just wants us to know he is there and He has all the time in the world to spend with us.
When the Bible says that God is jealous for us, I think what it means is that He just wants to be the center of our attention. Much like I wish I was the center of my kids attention. I constantly want them to know I love them and they love me. I think God’s like that.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying.” I think it means simply acknowledging God is with us throughout the day. When we make big decisions, we ask for His advice and wisdom. God doesn’t want us to just settle for a quiet time that happens once a day or once a day, once in a while. He is speaking to us all day long. The key to unlocking our best life is to learn to listen to His voice.
When a young rich guy came to Jesus and asked Him what He needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus mentioned the Ten Commandments. The rich guy was mentally checking off in his head every rule that Jesus mentioned. When Jesus finished the list, the rich guy was so proud to say that he had kept all these rules for a long time. Then, Jesus told him to go and sell all his possession and give the money to the poor and then he would store up treasures in Heaven. The rich guy walked away dejected. I think what Jesus was saying is that following Him isn’t about a list of do’s and don’ts. Jesus wanted the rich guy to see that following Jesus is about a dependence on God. It’s not about what we can do in our strength, but constantly relying on His.
When God is doing something for me, I am really good at giving Him my attention. However, I sometimes get distracted and I turn my attention elsewhere. The God of the universe just wants to spend as much time with us as possible. He realizes our time on earth is short and He wants to take full advantage of every moment we have together.
God wants us to have fun and enjoy ourselves. He doesn’t want us to live a boring life where we never play, laugh, and get excited about things. I think He delights in the things we delight in.
Following Jesus and having a relationship with God isn’t about a list of do’s and don’ts, but just acknowledging God in the everyday details of our lives. We can’t stay on our knees all day, but we can realize His presence is with us and He is there if we ever need anything. God is a Father who wants to be wanted.