There is something about the sunrise in the spring. Something new. Something more alive. For some reason, the sky feels a little more pink, the air more pure.
Maybe its the added chirping of birds. A new chorus of life greeting less chillier mornings. Maybe its the purple flowers outside my window, with a special tint in the early glowing hour.
Something in the air speaks of promise. Of hope. Of freshness.
I like to start my morning with the filter of the sunrise. Soft, hopeful hues on the quiet world around me.
I am sometimes gifted with bouts of insomnia. It started for me about 5 years ago. I did not welcome it then as a gift. It is wretched and life-sucking and I would dread, with my eyes wide open in the dark, the hours I would face in my day when my kids would need me and I would be exhausted and fried.
After wrestling with my angst for many nights, I finally decided, if I can’t sleep, I am determined to do the most productive thing I can. I will open my Bible and I will fill my prayer journal.
I sat in my living room in the dark early hours of the morning and soaked up the presence of God. And I was beautifully surprised. There was a depth to my studies not normally experienced in my current status of motherhood. I saw the value, and the reward, in seeking out wisdom. My prayers were more intentional. The things God put on my heart lingered there throughout my day.
And although there were definitely still tired moments, I was not controlled by exhaustion anymore. God met me in my insomnia and sustained me.
These sleepless moments became a gift, spending rich, beautiful time in God’s word. And as the sane hours of morning neared, I would open the blinds so I could watch the darkness slowly fade, the soft filter of light descending upon a new day.
Watching the sunrise from my quiet, comfortable chair, after filling myself with God’s truth, was a sweet reward.
I remember the day I wrote in my journal I was thankful for insomnia. I actually laughed at myself. But I was, indeed, truly thankful.
It was in the trenches of insomnia that my understanding and acceptance of God’s sovereignty was molded and fortified. I was being prepared for a future I never could have imagined and what I learned in these moments carried me through the minefield of terror I was about to step in.
I never could have known that God was planting specific truths in my heart to strengthen my foundation and prepare me for the unthinkable. But I am forever grateful he pursued me in the only time of my day that could not be interrupted by anything else.
And while the extensive stretches of insomnia eventually lessened, born in those long nights was a discipline developed for early mornings. I began to find much joy in beating the sun to my chair by the window, soaking in God’s word while my house slept. And while the warmth of my bed still often begs me to stay, I know that what is waiting for me in the living room is more valuable than a few more morsels of sleep.
When Mason died, sleep was again elusive. The heaviness that settles on a grieving heart, while causing every bone to ache with weariness, forbids the peace of sleep. The shock of death can strike even in the waves of unconsciousness and startle me awake. And the nightmare awaiting me in reality often prevents the ability to fall back asleep.
A discipline I had developed in the previous years forced me in those moments to not allow the fear and anxiety and overwhelming heartache to hold me hostage in the dark. If tears came and what ifs started haunting me, I refused to stay in the blackness and allow them to assault me.
I made my way out to the same chair I’ve spent many sleepless hours, opened the same Bible that floods me with truth, and allowed the beautiful presence of an unchanging God to fill me.
This time in the word, reading and absorbing God’s promises, creates a solid filter of truth over everything else I experience in life.
I am not a huge fan of bright sunny days. I much prefer a blanket of fog, or thick clouds. The bright sun of midday makes my sensitive eyes squint and usually leaves me with a headache. The bright sunlight is a little severe for me, a harsh filter that diminishes the beautiful hues of flowers or the welcoming softness of grass. I delight in the filter of clouds. It calms me, invigorates me.
And sunrise… I love sunrise. The best way to start my day is with the sunrise. Watching the darkness slowly give way to the glow of light. The filter of freshness lying thick on the beauty around.
And while beginning my day with the sunrise is refreshing and enjoyable, beginning my day with the Word of God is life giving and sustaining.
I hate living every day without Mason. The pain of grief is harsh, and it can create a grim filter of fear. It can cast bleak and bitter light on what is actually beautiful. It can make things that once seemed so hopeful feel lost. Living without Mason is a reality that needs the filter of truth. Much like the bright sunlight makes my eyes squint and my head hurt, years without my little boy make my heart weary and focus blurred.
But when I spend time absorbing God’s truth, letting the filter of what is unchanging and certain settle over me, I see light saturate my darkness. I begin to see beautiful hues on what can seem painful and harsh. As the morning sun makes every petal of a flower more vivid, God’s promises bring clarity to my perspective.
When I sit and watch the darkness start to fade by the hints of morning light, I see other things too. Little gifts. Glimpses of beauty which only the special filter of light can expose. Softness in the world around me. Intricate details of leaves. Drops of dew on blades of grass. Dimensions of the clouds which can only be viewed through the depths of a sunrise glow.
The light of Christ creates similar beauty. It pushes out the dark that hovers over me. It brings clarity and beauty to the painful tedium of living life without one of my children. And just as the filter of sunrise brings beautiful dimension to these purple flowers, Christ brings hope through my pain. He brings a soft clarity to what I still have on this earth that is sacred and beautiful. He helps me see the depth of joy that is found in him and these promises that feel faded in the harshness of grief’s darkness are still true. And his love is steadfast. And his sovereignty is sure. And as eternity nears, his light continues to dawn brighter and the harsh memories of death slowly fade as the filter of truth shows the dimensions of hope.
Little (and big!) promises are brought to light every time I find myself in God’s word. And while I do not see a sunrise and not think of the one dawning the moments Mason’s heart was beating its last, I also do not see the light pushing out the darkness and not think of the sweet glory of my boy’s existence in eternity and the hope I can cling to because of the power of Christ.