Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Start At The End?

You know that moment somewhere between “asleep” and “awake” when you have the feeling you suddenly understand life, the Universe and everything? I have an idea about that moment, and am interested in your thoughts if you will follow me: but first . . .

When does your day begin? Midnight? Sunrise? Sundown? I’ve been pondering the Jewish concept of the day beginning at sundown and wonder if there is a simple basic principle that the follower of Christ and lover of God should examine and put into practice.

Why say we start the day when the sun goes down? If we did not have electricity, sundown would be the time we clean up and go to bed. Presently we extend our bedding down until much, much later in the evening, but we still sleep at night (then complain about how little sleep we get). How does a day begin when we are not active? Our day begins in the light, with activity which carries on until the sun goes down at which time our day ends.

We lay down to sleep and we are most vulnerable and I think this is the point. What better way to start the day than with the physical action of literally placing our entire being in God’s hands? Our day begins with faith in God while we position ourselves to be perfectly defenseless for a few hours. Think about this when you say “bedtime prayers!”

J.C. Ryle instructs, "speak with God in the morning, before you speak with the world; and speak with God at night, after you have done with the world."

Now to my initial question: you know that moment somewhere between “asleep” and “awake” when you have the feeling you suddenly understand life, the Universe and everything? How does Psalm 16 help us grasp the significance of that moment (note specifically verse 7)? What insight do you gain from Psalm 121?

Furthermore, consider what starting the day with sundown does for our awakening. God has been active all night and now we are rejuvenated that we may join Him in what He has already been doing! We can enter the light of day with joyful thanksgiving to God for what He has done while we sleep!

Some liken this to individual life itself: from the darkness of the womb we enter light and life as we journey to the tomb, on the other side of which dawns a new day of eternal life.

It makes sense that the start of the day is “evening and morning”; that is, a new day begins when stars appear. But when does the day end? One might argue that the day ends when another begins, at sundown. The way I see it (and I could be wrong): the day never ends. The next day just begins because God never slumbers nor does He sleep.

I close with an extended quote from G.K. Chesterton's mighty work called "Orthodoxy":

"The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that the specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grownup person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grownup people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy . . . The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore . . . Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant may stop.  Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance."

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