“I rise up at 4:30 am every morning to meet with my Savior,” that didn’t bother me near as much as the next phrase, “And so do you if you want to have a deep relationship with God.”

This old codger had no clue about college students. If we saw 4:30 am, it was because we were just hitting the sack, not the alarm clock. But my astute, and incredibly old, professor of spiritual life was convinced that God only made appointments with the early risers.

Of course in college we had one luxury I don’t find I have as much now that I am moving unavoidably toward the age of my professor. We had time in spades, even with all those all night card games. We didn’t need the early morning to find a “quiet time” (another phrase I loathe, what guy wants a quiet time?). If we wanted quiet we had from 12:45 until my 3:15 class to go hiking up the mountain or visit the chapel. I could journal just as easily in the morning as I could right after dinner and before we headed out for my cheesy western burger desert at 10:00 pm.

Now I am discovering that it wasn’t just the curmudgeon who knew little about college culture. I knew squat about “adult culture.” Perhaps he wanted to instill a discipline in us because he knew that time sped up dramatically after we doffed cap and gown. He knew we had yet to hear the cacophony of noise awaiting our ears: rush hour traffic, the metronome of endless meetings, and bleating babies. Perhaps he knew, like so many in Scripture, early morning was the calm before our daily storms. Most of us rise up and the alarm clock is a starter’s gun – we’re off the blocks and don’t look back until we set it again. The Psalmist says, “It is vain for you to rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil” (127:2). In other words, it’s useless to toil without giving thought to the Provider.

This morning I read some from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. In a chapter entitled, “The Day with Others.” He made a statement my aged professor would have agreed with, “For Christians, the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day’s work. At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it. All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his wakening Word.”

If you are like me, early morning is one of the precious few times in the day where distractions don’t lurk behind every ringing phone, email alert, tv show that I just have to watch and then I’ll settle down, or the daily grind of work or parenting. That time of day made for the first sip of coffee. Perhaps that is why throughout Scripture the morning is presented as that moment, bereft of noise, people spent time with God. “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee…”(Psalm 63:1). It was Jesus in Mark who “rose up early in the morning and went to a desolate place to pray” (1:35). They knew it was far too easy to start the day with, “I’ll get to Him later…”

Intercourse is a funny word. It just made you pause. There’s a town in Pennsylvania with that unfortunate name. But it used to carry the connotation of “conversation.” Conversation with the Lord is like intercourse with a spouse. If you’ve got kids, setting your “conversation time” at 5:30 pm is probably begging for the untimely “walk-in.” If we want to keep the “walk-ins” with God at a minimum, there’s something wise about rising early. Trust me, I still only see 4:30 once a day. And I’m glad God doesn’t define His relationship with me with such a small thing as a 30 minute “quiet time.” But I know I need time with my Provider. He’s fuel for the day. So I guess in a way I’m starting to come around to those words from the old codger. He’s probably in Heaven by now; can’t imagine that guy is still alive…he’s probably waking Jesus up every morning saying, “Hey, it’s time for me to meet with you.”