This is actually being written the night before, the actual “night before” Christmas. I got up at 3:00 am…again. My dumb dog Mo (who we keep in our store room) was complaining to his canine brothers and sisters that we wanted their place to sleep in. Mo does this a couple times a week, and usually I get back to sleep. I have occasional sleep disturbance. It is a mixed blessing!
The bad news about an inability to sleep throughout the night is that it is a bit lonely. I have a brother-in-law in San Diego who has similar sleep problem, and we joke about calling each other at three or four in the morning… but I never do. In the words of John Wooden, the famous and outstanding basketball coach, “Do not let what you cannot do, stop you from doing what you can do.” You may not have control over how much you sleep, but you do have control over what you do in the wee hours of the morning.
Reading is the best thing one can do when the eyes won’t shut. Opening a book can take you places, and introduce to personalities that will bless your socks off and make your solitary times super. Both my in-law and I read a great deal, and share books from time to time. I like to read some pop culture stuff (such as The Hunger Games), but I always have a variety of books to choose from. I read a lot of Christian fiction, where God is always a player, as some type of drama is being played out. I am fortunate to be a member of Valley Baptist Church, which has an incredible lending library. The readers in my church developed a book cooperative, where we purchase books and then donate them to the church to share with others. I get thousands of hours of free, good quality entertainment each year, and I have a place to donate books… which decreases the demand for my own garage sales.
Reading rocks. Part of my pre-dawn doings is also Bible study. A couple of years ago, a faithful friend was talking to me about giving God our “first fruits.” That goes back to the harvest days where farmers would give up the first part of their harvest (or their new livestock), to God and others in need. Today we more commonly call it “tithing,” where when we get paid, the first check is ten percent to the church. If I awaken early, I give some of my time to spending it with God in the Word. It is a good thing to begin the day listening to the Creator of the Universe. I often forget what He tells me, but at least I do give him some time every day. I give him my first fruits, and He gives me a little peace and wisdom.
Yes I watch TV, but not too much, and it is often not the regular news, but just ESPN sports reports. TV news, and most programming in my mind, is not a good way to neither start the day nor end it. TV has the purpose of upsetting us (How many stories do we need to hear about the shootings in Connecticut), trying to manipulate us to buy something we don’t need, or getting us angry or upset. The internet is too much like TV, so I stay away from that too.
And of course, there is writing. In the wee hours of the morning, my head is usually the most clear and creative. I have made peace with my sleep disturbance, and I hope you have too! If not, well maybe that can be your gift for 2013. Either way, I am looking forward to a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s Day, no matter how early they begin.