I stay up late. It used to be cool. Teenager Aaron loved the thought of being the last one in the house to go to bed – I think because it gave him some sense of power. College aged Aaron decided that watching shows on this new fangled device called Tivo was more important than the sleep his body told him he should be getting – and so he stayed up well into the night making sure he was all caught up. Newly married Aaron thought that spending time with his wife was super important, and since she worked until 7PM, and he was a youth pastor, the best way to do that was to stay up real late. Are you sensing a trend here?
At some point it just became a thing I do. I stay up late. To this day, when everyone else goes to sleep, and I am “alone” awake in my house, it brings me a sense of calm and peace that few other things in the world do. It’s when I feel the most “me.” It is however, not without its consequences – one of which is obvious. When you go to bed late, you’re probably not going to be the first one out of bed in the morning. This is true of me. I get up late. If I am being honest, my normal schedule probably looks something like asleep by 1-2AM, awake by 9-10AM. A good eight hours, if my body cooperates, but not the sleep schedule that doctors, wives, or normal people recommend. So, if not to brag, or try and win you over, why am I bringing all this up?
I think it’s because people make an assumption, which as we know, turns everyone into donkeys, like that awful scene from Pinocchio. They assume, even if fairly, that because I am sleeping until 10AM – I am not accomplishing as much as I could throughout my day. I am, in their eyes, wasting it. Let me concede I understand the argument. If I went to bed earlier, I COULD wake up earlier. If I woke up earlier I COULD do things in the morning. There are certain things that only happen at that time of day, there are many things I HAVE to be awake by 7AM for in order to do them – like when I substitute teach at my son’s school. And on those days, I usually am feeling pretty “sleep deprived.” As a 37 year old man, the “norm” is that I would go to sleep and rise earlier than I do.
But not everyone is looking out for my best interest 🙂 Some people are just being judgmental. You can hear them now. “A 37 year old pastor, father of 2, and husband shouldn’t be sleeping until 10AM.” “He’s just lazy.” “He’s missing out on SO much.” “How can he be so selfish?” I know YOU aren’t judging me, but I do know there are those who do. I have seen their faces and the shock in their eyes when my lifestyle becomes common knowledge to them.
The thing is this, they don’t hand out awards for how many sunrises you have seen or how early you woke up in the morning when you get to heaven. The colors of a sunset look just as beautiful as any sunrise I have ever seen, and my kids get just as much out of the 2+ hours I spend with them after dinner, as they would if I spent it with them before school. My wife is appreciative of my help around the house, whether it takes place at 7AM or 7PM – and most stores are open as late into the evening as they are early in the morning. My sermons seem to work just as well if I write them at 9PM or 9AM, and I thanks to the wonderful inventors of the DVR, television shows are available to be consumed whenever my heart desires. All of this to say, in 2019, I’m not sure my sleep schedule is what truly matters. What matters to me, and what just plain matters, is that I make the most of the time I am awake.
Making the most of something is hard no matter what it is or when you’re trying to do it. There are SO many distractions that try and steal away our time, resources, and attention in today’s world. It is JUST as easy to get kidnapped by your phone as you scroll through Instagram at work as it is at home. At the breakfast or dinner table. The challenge is to be INTENTIONAL about using WHAT we have in the way we WANT to use it – instead of getting sucked into “wasting” it. We need to make the most of what we have been given. Which is much easier said than done.
This might be a bit of a hard left turn but hang with me for a second. God has given us all “something.” Maybe you’re good at talking with other people. Maybe you’re super drawn to serving. Maybe you’ve found joy in teaching Sunday school or perhaps you’re at your most natural when you’re encouraging others. Other people will be different. They won’t understand you or why you’re drawn to the things you are. You might feel strange or out of place. Some people might even go as far as to judge you. No matter what “gift” God has given you, what matters is that you make the most of it. That you take the things that God used to create you, and give them back to Him in a way that brings Him the most glory.
Teach the heck out of that Sunday school lesson. Serve people until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer. Show people the power faith has to change a life. Encourage others until the cows come home (do they ever actually leave?). Whatever it is God has blessed you with, use it to BE a blessing to someone else, and to show them how incredible that God who gave it to you really is. It doesn’t matter WHEN, it doesn’t necessarily matter HOW, the things that matter most, are WHAT & WHY. That you use WHAT God gave you, to bring people closer to Him.
Each day I try and use the 16 or so hours I am awake to do the most good. I can. Sometimes that means writing sermons and playing with my kids. Other days it means cleaning out the garage and mowing the lawn. Most days it means walking the dog, riding a bike, or lifting some weights. But there are also times when it means, sitting on a couch, watching football and catching up with an old friend. Heck, sometimes I even take a nap – because what good am I as a husband, pastor and father, if I don’t have the energy to engage with those who need me?
Each day is a gift. One that God has given us. But He’s also given us more. Natural abilities and supernatural gifts to tap into and change the world around us. Today someone might just need a shoulder to cry on, and tomorrow they might be in a place where they long for encouragement. Perhaps God has made you uniquely, for such a time as this. This is your opportunity. Don’t miss it.
So stay up late, or go to bed early. Watch the sunrise, or stare a beautiful star filled sky – all I’m saying is, whatever choices you make, and whatever chances come your way – make the most of them. And if you ever need someone to talk to at 1AM, know I’m up and only a phone call away.