In case you’ve been wondering the specifics of my morning routine (I mean, aren’t you just dying to know?) here they are:
• The cat wakes me up. It is still dark outside. Very dark.
• I stumble to the kitchen and start the coffee.
• Shivering, I head to the thermostat and turn up the heat.
• Then I go into my home office to start up the computer and read emails.
• Next I go back to the kitchen to get my brew (strong, bold, black, thank you).
• Finally, I go to my special spot in the living room for time with God—
• –unless a cat trips me on the way. If so, I feed cat.
The whole routine takes less than 15 minutes. And I like it. But something went wrong last week. Steps one through three went fine. But on the fourth one, the email one, I found an unpleasant communication which I knew I would have to reply to. I harrumphed, collected my coffee, and went to the living room. I was mad. And hurt. And frustrated. Although I hadn’t woken up grumpy, I was now.
So what did I do? I shoved the email out of my mind, picked up my Bible, and planned to have a wonderful time with God. I mean, really, I didn’t want to show up grumpy in His presence, right?
I opened my Bible to where the bookmark was: Ezekiel. (Yes, I do actually read Ezekiel. I can’t say I understand it very well, but I truly believe that all Scripture is profitable [see 2 Timothy 3:16] so systematic reading of Scripture—all of it—is part of my spiritual discipline).
But before I could delve into Ezekiel’s astonishing visions and sobering warnings, God stopped me.
Are you really going to ignore what you’re feeling and read Ezekiel—of all things—as if nothing had happened?
I was startled by His question. Was God actually challenging me postpone reading the Bible that morning?
It seems that He indeed was. It seems that He would prefer to talk to me about my feelings and attitude than help me make sense of Ezekiel. At least on that particular morning.
I sighed and closed my Bible. Grabbed my journal. And poured out what I was feeling. I didn’t try to pretty it up. I just dumped it on Him, like I would dump it on a trusted friend.
And He patiently listened! Instead of condemning me for what I was feeling, He helped me understand where those feelings were coming from. He helped me release the hurt and anger. And confess my pride. Then He talked to me about how to offer a high-road response to the email that had offended me.
I didn’t ever get to Ezekiel that day. And I didn’t get very far on my prayer list, either. But God and I did important work that day. He tended to my heart and helped me respond constructively to a hard situation. If I had read Ezekiel that day and prayed my prayer list—as is my habit—I would have missed all that. And I probably would have made the situation worse by reacting out of my hurt feelings rather than out of God’s grace.
What did I get from all of this? You might think that I learned not to read emails before my morning time with God. That would probably be good thing for me to learn, but I haven’t yet. What God did clearly remind me of, though, was that relationship with Him—sharing my heart with Him honestly, listening to Him, and receiving His help and correction—is even more important than rigidly keeping to my Bible-reading and prayer schedules. Yes, yes, yes, I will continue my good habit of reading my Bible and praying each morning! But, sometimes, when God and I need to have an important conversation, that conversation will come first. And that’s okay. Ezekiel can wait.