I wake up each morning pretty much the same. My alarm goes off on my phone, I walk to the other side of the bedroom and hit the snooze button. I lay back down for another five minutes until my alarm goes off again. Annoyed by the fact that it’s only been five minutes since it went off last (intentionally), I question why I have my alarm set to this often insane time so early in the morning that I question whether the Almighty even knows about this hour of the day or not. At that point I am reminded of why I have to beat this earthen vessel into submission: to be a true disciple of my Master.
So, I say Modeh Ani (the prayer upon rising, thanking the Almighty for another day of this life), get dressed (sometimes) and make may way to my office at the other end of the house (not very far away in my 1400 sq. foot home). Often I’ll make a cup of tea (Chai, Oolong, Early Grey) or coffee (decaf), and then begin my morning study routine. I first pray the Hareini Mekasher (the prayer for binding oneself to Yeshua as my Master and the Righteous Messiah), then recite a long portion of the Sermon on the Mount (memorization exercise), then move on to study several other things — mussar, Torah, the Gospels, Paul, Torah Club, Daily Dose of Torah, chasidic commentary/insights, contemporary writings among my peers, views that are opposed to mine, blogs, etc.. I’m not saying I study every single one of these each morning. However, I will gravitate toward a particular topic or three, but maintain my “core” sources in the mix.
After that, I try to write. And although I haven’t posted daily on my site, I do try to write at least something each day. Currently, I’ve been very focused on my discipleship book. I have intentionally reserved my site for what I consider more important, complete thoughts, rather than filling it each day with my stream of consciousness that seems to be prevalent among most blogs (and arguably which is actually more of a blog anyway). My choice in this has been to spare people my ramblings, my rants and my questions and offer a few nuggets here and there which may be of value.
From there I spend time in Shacharit (morning prayer) and then begin my work day.
Anyway… a few weeks ago, the eldest daughter of one of my best friends painted a picture (above) for her family of a burning lamp with a couple of scrolls in the background. Her caption reads, “STUDY while the light still shines…” Her father made me a copy of it, and I hung it in front of my desk yesterday. It will serve as a constant reminder of why I have to beat this flesh into submission, rather than getting the extra hours extra sleep that most people would enjoy.
The sages say that one of the first questions we will be asked by the Holy One in the world to come is, “Did you set aside fixed times of study?” (b.Shabbat 31a). Whether this is true or not is not my point. We should make it, however, as important to us today as it was at the time of the disciples. Where the disciples had the Torah-made-flesh as their instructor, today we mainly have the written works of others to guide us. Some of us are fortunate to actually walk in the dust of a great teacher to whom we have been taken under their wing. Most are not that fortunate. So, until we have that opportunity, studying the writings of holy men and women who have walked this journey ahead of us is our primary means of staying the course and molding our minds into godly vehicles by which we convert information into action, thoughts into deeds. It is in these times of concealed, un-noticed self-discipline that our minds, hearts and souls are transformed. It is this preparatory work that tills the soil for hearts that are receptive to the work of the Almighty during the day. It is this preparatory work that I enjoy sharing with my close friends, knowing that they, too, are seeking the Holy One daily.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a boast feast. I have nothing to boast in. I struggle daily with submission. My point is this: I’ve been writing a lot about discipleship. However, it doesn’t mean beans if I’m not living it. So, I’m throwing the ball back into your court: Are you actively making effort daily to be a better disciple of Yeshua?
When Yeshua returns, I want him to be able to look at me with loving eyes and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” What about you? Does your daily routine leave room for discipleship?