[From the archives, first posted a couple winters ago.]
This is what I saw as I left the house yesterday morning:
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 when your winter runs begin and end before the sun comes up.
Waiting for Morning
I remember a family reunion back when I was 14, a few of us decided to stay up all night. It was fun for the first few hours.
Then it got tedious.
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 bed.
Keeping Watch in the Night
Have you noticed in all those movies where a band of adventurers makes camp for the night that 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 the dawn.
The Bible talks about watchmen too. In ancient times even a walled city had watchmen, 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 Israelite 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 as we wait for eternity.
Waiting in Patience
We are to wait in God’s patience:
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 in the morning of the Lord.