Ever feel like you’re so tired that your eyes don’t even really fit in your face?
I say this to Kevin and he groans, nodding, throwing a leg over the side of the bed to heave himself upright. In the stillness, I rub my eyes—these betrayers that don’t even want to open, much less to see. Life just hulls us out that way—the emotion of it more even than the time. We rise empty and early in search of fullness, hungry and desperate and determined.
I crouch helplessly beside the Keurig in the dark, not even really wanting to stand. That blue machine glow creates the only light in the room, and it turns my olive skin pale, cold. Impulsively, I grab my phone from the night stand and thumb-scan my email. 4 messages that came…when? Some of them will take a second reading…and that one…I’m itching to answer it now. Now, in the cold blue glow of the Keurig before I can even barely open my eyes. Probably not the best time for good communication.
The machine clicks ready, and I center my mug, thinking that even its chipped rim is somehow beautiful for the history. My thumb grazes a tiny open place, a soft, porous bisque exposed, and I let it rest just there, remembering the feel of long-tossed seashells and bits of salt-washed pottery. I recognize the longing for the meandering power of the coast, the way it scrubs a soul.
The Keurig sighs, a gust of air pushing out the last of the liquid, and I lift the mug, returning my attention to my phone. Twitter. Facebook. A few likes, a retweet, a happy birthday message. I even buffer something for later–quickly, just by touching a few buttons, and if you know what that means, well, then you know. It’s important to prepare for later, to be ready when the day rushes past too quickly and time blurs everything. Not that I can see much, in the still black morning before the sun has even risen to light the glaze of the seaglass in my window, and the only light is the false light of machines. I feel productive, but that longing—it persists.
And then I thumb past something good just resting there waiting at my fingertips, something about giving God the firstfruits of your time. And then I see it, the way I have let machine light become my Dawn, when the Life—the light that the darkness cannot overcome, the lamp to my feet, the Reason Heaven needs no sun nor light of lamp has been awaiting the touch of my fingertips, my thumbs gliding over the thin paper, my heart turned. And I see the subtle way the most benign distractions creep, how they swallow the minutes whole beneath my thumbs. The first day’s five multiply into forty, and then I have twenty minutes left for God when I could be waking up to Him fitting these eyes back into my face and teaching me again how to see. Because I already know that the longing gnawing at my soul, it’s really the deep need to be close to Him. In my heart, the folds of His arms always smell like the ocean.
In the darkness, I put down my phone.
The best content available on social media and the best content shared well-fills hands first opened to God. He’s the reason I get up so early, the reason I stand crouched beside the Keurig and Kevin heaves himself upright. We choose the early hour because we need to focus on Him first, and yet…even before the true light dawns distraction creeps, and by choice, I offer my groggy attention to a thousand other voices before I listen to the sound of His.
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine, Proverbs says. God’s always had this thing about receiving our firstfruits, about the choice of a soul to offer Him the first of everything, believing that He will supply—indeed overflow—the harvests that come after our initial sacrifices. And it’s not something He asks without offering the same. Word says we’ve been given the firstfruits of the Spirit, even as we groan in these bodies. Giving over that first before the rest comes, that’s faith.
When tithing becomes primarily about a percentage and not about what’s first, it can become more a budgeted part than the surrender of a faith-turned heart. Offering was never meant to be about what I expect to be able to manage myself, but rather about what I am certain God will provide, not because it makes sense to me but because He has promised. And so it is, even with my time. There’s no better way to prepare for later than to offer God the firstfruits of my attention, my waking; to come to Him emptied and hungry, ready to be filled by the firstfruits of His Spirit. I haven’t fully experienced–nor even yet imagined—the outer limits of the productivity until I willingly offer God that Sabbath, because God promises to multiply unto overflowing blessing whatever I first invest in Him.
Somehow, I miss things—like light falling on the glaze of sea glass–when I start off without ever getting my eyes in right, without feeling His thumbs pressed carefully over the lids, healing. I spend the day chasing time and never finding enough. And I just don’t want to live a life I can’t savor or taste or see, a life half-dead and only partially surrendered, partially opened to grace.
So in the morning rising, I put down my phone and I renew a choice I made a long time ago, to make Him my first thing, the first One…every day, every breath, every chance. I choose —again and again, and stumbling, again—to offer Him the firstfruits.