I must start this account with the disclaimer that I am not a morning person. I’m more prone to night owl habits, so there’s no way I would wake up before dawn without a “kick in the pants,” so to speak. Suffice to say; there’s a reason I had never attended a sunrise service before this Easter. I decided I should finally have the experience, but as the day approached, I had apprehensions about the idea of rising before the sun. Thankfully, my plans to write this article encouraged me to rearrange my sleep schedule. And at 5:00 A.M. on Easter morning, I was surprisingly uplifted as I drove beneath the full moon.
Standing in the cold of the morning with a crowd of people wasn’t a profound spiritual experience, but it was meaningful. It was refreshing to worship and honor Jesus with the backdrop of a cross against a beautiful Arizona sunrise. Reflecting on the true story of real people who found the tomb empty on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection was a reminder that the Gospel is not a just symbolic story of hope; it’s the truth that has changed countless lives. It’s easy to think of Jesus as more of an idea than a person, and it’s powerful when we realize the experiences and emotions that He went through on Earth, all so that He could step into our shoes. That is why we celebrate Easter and why we can have peace as we go about our lives.I didn’t think I’d say this, but I know this year won’t be the last time I go to a sunrise service. As tired as I was, I felt rejuvenated by embracing a new setting to praise Jesus. It made me realize that reading my Bible and spending time with God in solitude are not the only ways I can be intentional about connecting with Him. While consistency is important, I don’t know how something new may open my eyes. Whether that means attending a special service, going to a new Bible study, or doing something totally unexpected, I know it may not change my life dramatically or give me a “special moment.” However, I also know that God wants me to experience new ways of praising Him.The story of Jesus is all about the new, and we tend to forget that it continues past the moment we become Christians. God is always working to bring new into our lives. He wants to replace our old habits with ones that bring glory. He wants to fill our set ways of thinking with new wisdom. Most of all, He wants to give us new experiences with Him so we can better understand His purpose for us.The trouble is, “new” is challenging for us, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Most of the time, we reject the unfamiliar because we are untrained, and it doesn’t feel good. We can never “train” ourselves for the unknown, so we need to trust in God. We can train ourselves to move forward into unfamiliar territory, whether that’s in simple or dramatic ways.
Here are some points from my sunrise service experience that we can apply every day:Create accountability. To do things outside of our comfort zones, we need a reason that’s outside of ourselves. You can ask a friend to hold you accountable or make a commitment that will cause you some kind of repercussion if you don’t follow through.Treat God as a friend. We shouldn’t always depend on others to do new things (Most people don’t want to wake up at 5:00 AM on a Sunday). The comforting fact is that God is always with us, and we should honor our plans with Him as we would any friend. He may not always have a specific direction He tells you to go, but if you’ve prayed and decided that He is leading you somewhere, it’s up to you to go forth no matter what anyone else is doing.Know Jesus is for your good. We will never have a perfect weekend or one supernatural experience that fulfills our lives. God changes us minute by minute, and He can mold something good from every happy, neutral, or tragic experience. Time with Jesus is never wasted. If you aren’t sure what to do next, the best thing to do is go to Him. Talk to Him, look to God’s Word, and show His love to others. The more you focus on who Jesus is, the more peace you will find in the new that He invites you to choose.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.