Before the Day
The hardest part is putting your feet on the floor, Katie. Just put your feet on the floor.
This is the mantra I repeat to myself almost every morning when my alarm clock goes off. My strongest temptation—and let’s be honest, my strongest desire—is to hit the snooze button two or three or ten times. This temptation isn’t necessarily sinful or bad. I could stay in bed, and I wouldn’t be less deserving of grace or less righteous before God for sleeping in. God isn’t keeping score, and thank goodness.
Still, I know what’s waiting for me on the other side of my covers if I just get my feet on the ground. Because outside my bedroom door, there is my tabula rasa—the quiet, clean slate of the day. I’m ready to hear from the Lord before I hear from anyone else.
Before the feet of my five children come down the hall asking for milk.
Before the headlines of the day take my attention.
Before social media shows me who is doing what.
Before my own sin and pride has a chance to derail me.
Before the work God has given to me demands my energy and effort, the chance to meet God in His Word waits at my kitchen table.
I just have to put my feet on the floor.
Happy in the Lord
In the late 1800s, an evangelist and orphanage director named George Müller gave us these beautiful words about his life in Christ: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.… The Lord's work may have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself!”
In a similar manner, Martin Luther once wrote in response to a question about his plans for the day: “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do, I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
These saints knew their days—much like ours—held good, important, hard work ahead. But in order to do that work, their day had to begin rooted in God.
Almost six years ago, I learned from my best friend’s example how sweet the early morning with Jesus could be. During a weekend visit to her home, I found her sitting at her kitchen table at 5:30 in the morning, a steaming cup of hot tea next to her open Bible. We both had children under six months old; we both knew all too well the new-mom rhythm of broken sleep and schedules that are not our own. But there she was, fighting for the little bit of time she could find for her and Jesus.
I had always been drawn to the cadence of my friend’s life, to the way she lived so rooted, so sure of who God was. She would certainly tell you her faith was far from perfect, but it was alive, and it was woven into every aspect of her life. When I saw the source of her faith, up close and in real time—knowing that same thing, that same source, was available to me—I came home from the weekend determined to draw from it. I wanted the wisdom and vibrancy I saw her finding in God’s Word, not the clatter and noise from a constant stream of other input that was drying me up. So, on a crisp October morning, I started beginning my days with an open Bible too.
Planted by the Stream
I had no idea at the time how much my life would change in the coming years, how marriage and motherhood and ministry would pile up far beyond what I was capable of holding on my own. I didn’t know in all those early mornings of learning who God truly was in His Word, how desperately I would need to know who He is.
When my son was diagnosed with a lifelong developmental disability, I needed the truth from the Gospel of John that even in disability, “the works of God might be displayed”1 in our son.
When depression descended on our home and we had to invite pastors and counselors into the most vulnerable places of our heart, I needed the truth from Colossians that “in [Jesus] all things hold together.”2
When we met a young, homeless, pregnant woman who asked us for help with her baby, I needed the truth from Isaiah as we navigated foster care and learned to “wait in the path of your commandments, Lord, for your name and renown are the desire of our soul.”3
In God’s kindness, He had planted me by the stream of His living water before these things happened, so when they did, the source that sustained me was already secure. I see this with the small things in my day, too. I’m more aware of His mercy, His presence, and His grace to navigate each day when I’ve begun with those things before the frustrating moments happen. I am happier in Him.
It doesn’t mean I don’t sin. Oh sisters, if you only knew.
It doesn’t mean my emotions are always in check. I lose patience and self-control daily.
It doesn’t even mean I never ask questions or experience doubt. I do.
But the difference between that young mom who was dried-up and frustrated, and the woman I am today—even with much more on my plate—is the quiet mornings with God’s Word. It’s not that I am more capable, it’s that I believe God is. When I found the quiet, the counterbalance to my loud world, it was there, with nothing competing for His attention, that God got big. He had been far too small to me—an equal part in equal size of the thousand moments that made up an average day. It was in the quiet, before the day, that He became unmatched.
Nothing but Grace
There is no commandment in Scripture to wake up early. Like so many things, believers have freedom from the law in Christ, and our righteousness is not found in collecting morning quiet times but in the perfection of Jesus. If the lunch hour or the “midnight oil” is more in line with your lifestyle and natural rhythm, then by all means, find God by searching His Word in those times. If circumstances will not allow you to wake up early in a certain season, and all you can do is put on Scripture for five minutes in the car, there is nothing but grace. The morning is not holier than any other time of the day.
It is simply untouched; it is before anything else, and that’s what makes it so beautiful.
Once my feet are on the floor, I head to the kitchen table. I know the sun will be up soon and with it will come the rush to get ready for work, the demands for milk, and the frenetic search for matching socks. All of those things will still happen, but they won’t happen first. My heart will have had a chance to grow in the rich, healthy, and fertile ground of time with Jesus, making the roots that much stronger to hold me up all day. It’s not magic, but it is glory—morning glory.
Meet the author:
Katie Blackburn is a wife, mother of five, writer, teacher and learner. She is saved by grace, and sustained by cold brew coffee and early mornings at her kitchen table. You can find more of her writing on faith, special needs, foster care and anything else God is teaching her about at katiemblackburn.com or on Instagram at @katiemblackburn.