Each morning our bodies instinctively strive for harmony. Psychologists call this homeostasis, or equilibrium. For example, if we wake up tired, we reach for a double espresso to jolt us back into balance. If we wake up hungry and light-headed, we grab a doughnut and our blood sugar spikes back up, at least for a moment. I’ll let the health and fitness blogs comment on whether these practices are best for your body in the long run.
But there are a few other feelings that we might have as we start each day. When we wake up, we might feel rejection, shame, or unworthiness. Maybe our actions have ruined a treasured relationship. Maybe we aren’t performing well at work or school. Maybe we can’t seem to kick our addiction to porn, alcohol, or food.
Our hearts instinctively want to change how we feel, to return to a state of peace. According to the Bible, peace (in Hebrew: Shalom) is not just the absence of pain, but it is a feeling of wholeness and completeness. We long for this kind of peace and will do whatever we can to get it.
So maybe to feel accepted, loved, and worthy, the first thing we do in the morning is to check our social media status to see if anyone “likes” us. Or maybe we make a mad dash to the office and double down on outperforming our coworkers. Maybe we pound our bodies at the gym. We hope that these quick fixes will make us feel enough, will give us a sense of peace.
To be honest, our knee-jerk reactions to unwanted feelings work, at least immediately. For a moment we have a sense of peace, but as we all know, the feelings fade, and we experience what feels like a spiritual sugar crash.
We need a better morning routine. We need a better way to find the peace that sustains our spirits. And I believe Jesus shows us the way.
How did Jesus find peace?
All the biblical biographies of Jesus make a big deal out of his baptism, the day he started his ministry. In the book of Luke, we read:
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased’” (3:21,22).
As the Father’s love, acceptance, and approval were still ringing in his ears, we read:
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1,2).
So, at Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke a word of acceptance. He was enough. And because Jesus trusted in his Father’s approval, Jesus was at complete peace.
Then the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness where he was tested by the devil. The devil knows that the human spirit longs to be at peace. So the first thing the devil did was to challenge the Father’s words of approval. The devil began his temptations by saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3). In other words . . . “If your Father really loved you, he would have sent you out here with at least a lunch. But he doesn’t care about you. You better take care of yourself. Turn these stones into bread.”
The devil knew that if Jesus would lose his peace, he might be willing to do just about anything to get it back. But Jesus didn’t take the bait. He held on to the hope that his Father loved and accepted him. He remained at peace with God. And if he had peace with the Father, he wouldn’t fall for any quick fixes or counterfeits for completeness.
The best way to begin your day
Now it’s your turn. Follow the way of Jesus so you can begin to experience a peace that sustains in the long run.
- Visualize your baptism. Start each morning visualizing yourself at the waters of Baptism. Imagine the waters of God washing you clean. Believe that the Holy Spirit is resting on you like a bird resting on a branch. Then hear, deep in your soul, what Jesus heard: “This is my son. This is my daughter. I am so happy with them.” As Pastor Mike Novotny would say, “GOD is here!” with his love and acceptance.
- Meditate on God’s approval. Rejection, shame, and unworthiness are deep spiritual feelings, so I say “visualize” and “imagine” your baptism. You need God’s truth to touch and heal where you feel discord and pain. It isn’t enough to know God’s truth in your head. You need to let yourself experience his truth in your heart. So meditate on God’s approval. Feel God’s love in the places where you feel uneasy.
- Anticipate the test. Jesus was led out into the wilderness where he was tested. Each day you enter the wilderness of the world where you will be tested as well. And the devil hasn’t changed his methods. He wants to rob you of your peace. He will plant seeds of doubt in your heart. There are millions of ways that he wants you to feel like you’re not enough, that you don’t have God’s approval in Jesus. Don’t take the bait. Let him know, “Not today, Satan!”
We all have our morning routines. Maybe you have a coffee, a shower, and read the news. Whatever you do to start your day off right, would you consider adding this important practice?
- Feel the waters of your baptism.
- Hear in your heart the words of approval from the Father.
- Fix your eyes on Jesus’ cross and his empty tomb.
In this way, you will start your day from a place of spiritual and emotional peace.