A Morning Worth Waiting For

This is what I saw as I left the house yesterday morning:

Sunrise as seen from my driveway

Sunrise from my driveway

We get sunrises like this most mornings. Yes, everyone should live where I do.

You know what else I’ve been noticing about early mornings lately? It’s colder when I get home from my run than it was when I left. Yesterday it dropped 4 degrees in that single hour of running, from 32 to 28. That’s what happens I guess when your run begins and ends before the sun comes up.

Waiting for Morning

I remember when I was about 14 and we were at a family reunion, a few of us decided to stay awake all night. It was fun for the first few hours, but got really tedious after a while.

Really, how many games of truth or dare can you play before everyone runs out of steam? How many toasted marshmallows can you roast and eat before even a 14 year old boy gets tired of them? How many places can you explore before everything starts to look the same in the dark? Answer to all three questions: not many.

Morning could not come too soon, and I welcomed the dawn and the stirring of the camp so I could have some breakfast and go to sleep.

Watchmen of the Night

Have you noticed something in those movies where a band of adventurers makes camp for the night? They always set watch. It’s a time honored practice, keeping watch for danger. One person gets the first watch for a couple hours, then they wake someone else for the next, and so on until dawn. I bet that last person eagerly waited for and then welcomed the dawn.

The Bible talks about watchmen too. In ancient times even a walled city had night watchmen on its walls, keeping an eye open for danger of any kind: enemies, windstorms,  fire, or whatever might happen while most people slept. This image of vigilance made its way into a psalm pilgrims sang as they made their way to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate and worship God:

I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130:6.)

I’m not sure how the cadence works out in the original Hebrew, but this English translation does not put a bounce in one’s step. For me it carries a feeling of weariness, especially with that repeated second line: A vigilant watcher waiting through the night, waiting for the morning to come but not yet given the first hint of dawn: One whose eyes strain to look for the easing of darkness on the far horizon, imagining the colors of the expected sunrise: The shivering weary one wakened in the cold dark hours who continues to wait as the night gets colder and darker still.

Watchmen wait for the morning … watchmen wait for the morning.

That’s how it is for those who wait for the Lord.

Yet our waiting now is not for the Lord’s presence. We await his coming again, true, but he is also with us and within us now and for eternity. And here is how we are to wait and not grow weary:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. (2 Peter 3:8-9.)

And where did Peter get that idea of what time is like in God’s kingdom, what it is like to be waiting for our coming King to renew heaven and earth? From this psalm of Moses:

A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4.)

Every watchman of old knew that all watches come to an end. It’s a good lesson for us too.

This watch will end.

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25 Responses to A Morning Worth Waiting For

  1. janehinrichs says:

    Guard duty is no fun. What a glorious thing it is to begin seeing those first hints of the sunrise!

  2. SJBeals says:

    What a beautiful photo. I love the thought that Jesus is coming again for his bride. It’s so helpful to keep that in mind…it helps us number our days and focus on eternity. A great lesson, indeed.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Sarah. The sunsets out here are great this time of year too. I get to see these things on the way to work and back home in the evening every stinkin’ day!

  3. Jeannie says:

    Beautiful picture and post: thanks for the encouraging words.

  4. Mary Anne says:

    Watchman, tell us of the night,
    What its signs of promise are.
    Traveler, o’er yon mountain’s height,
    See that glory beaming star.
    Watchman, does its beauteous ray
    Aught of joy or hope foretell?
    Traveler, yes—it brings the day,
    Promised day of Israel.

    For more, go here:
    http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/a/watchman.htm

    Grand old hymn.

  5. Tim, this makes me think of the night I was a watchwoman.

    My husband and I honeymooned in the Adirondacks. One day we climbed a mountain and set up camp with a small tent. The view was amazing. All was bliss until night fell and the wind began to howl. I could NOT sleep. I started to think about bears. Our tent seemed so fragile — so vulnerable!

    My husband tried to assure me that there was nothing to worry about. He turned over and began to gently snore. I sat cross-legged on top of my sleeping bag for HOURS holding a tiny can of pepper spray. At last I dropped into a fitful sleep.

    What a delight to awake to light flooding our tent! I hopped up and began to shake my husband vigorously.

    Me: “GOOD MORNING HONEY!!!”
    Husband: “Huh?” [checks his watch] “Adriana, it’s not yet midnight.”
    Me: “That can’t be right! The sun is rising! Let’s get out of here!”
    Husband: “Sweetie, it’s a full moon.”

    I had to check to be sure. I unzipped the tent, and yes, it was the moon.

    Somehow I managed to doze through several more restless hours until at last — mercifully — the actual sun arose in all its splendor. I was never. so glad to see morning!

    P.S. Love the sunrise pic!

    • Tim says:

      Adriana, that is an awesome story! I love moonlight and can just imagine how bright it was there on the mountain top.

      Back when my mother was young and not yet married, she was camping with some friends in Colorado. A bear decided to visit their camp, and it actually stuck its head into my mom’s tent. The encounter was a bit tense, and even got violent as the bear took a swipe across my mom’s face. Happily, it was merely a glancing blow (just scratches, no scars) and the bear decided to leave at that point. You holding the pepper spray doesn’t seem all that crazy to me. Staying awake would have been beyond me, but I would have slept with it close by for sure.

  6. I love that Psalm – and I love how it repeats the same line again. We wait more than watchmen wait for morning — and the watch WILL end, like you said!

    For a while, I was very jealous of anyone who lived in California, but I think in the last couple years, I’ve come to terms with being a Northeast Coast girl. Also, I just want to move CLOSER to my family — not farther away! But I’ve decided to be content with where God has placed us, and I’ve grown to relish my homeland here. Glad you love where you live too!

  7. Nancy Van Wyck says:

    Since we have shared some bear storys, I have to tell about our camping days. We were settled for the night and comfortable on the hard ground because we were on vacation. Everyone is asleep but me and then the loud strange noise, nothing I ever heard before so it had to be a bear. I prayed really hard and God got us through the night. Next day traveling down the highway I yelled to my husband to stop. In the road was a nice heavy chain. O.K. back that night the plan was I would hold the rubber hammer and when the bear came into the tent my husband was suppose to wrap that chain around the bears neck and I would hit the bear over the head. Lucky for us that did not happen. God is good.
    Love your picture and the nice write up.

  8. KSP says:

    If you were on Facebook or Twitter, you could see the gorgeous pictures I post of Virginia in all seasons (and sometimes pics of the dogs and chickens, too).

  9. I’ve been lurking here and reading your blog for awhile now. Just need to chime in that in the middle of the country….South Dakota we get glorious sunrises and sunsets. As my husband says one can stretch our eyes here and not be hindered with towering buildings or too many trees.
    Keep up the great blogs Tim.

    • Tim says:

      Stretch our eyes – nicely put. And I am so glad you decided to de-lurk. Please jump in often and help the conversation along, Ms. Brinks!

  10. Aimee Byrd says:

    It was hard for me to move past my jealousy of your morning sunrises and read the rest of your post, Tim. But so glad I did. As Tom Petty says, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

    • Tim says:

      If you and Matt ever travel out here, Aimee, you can go running with us and see those sunrises yourselves. Although I should warn you that my wife runs faster than I do and more than twice as far.

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