More than 15 years ago, we were serving as the lead pastors at a church in Northeast Louisiana, and we scheduled a set of special services to encourage and challenge people spiritually. We invited Rev. Geary Phillips to be our speaker for those services, and I have not since forgotten one of the messages he preached. I remember it because it was such a different message, and the truth was so simple that it caught me off-guard.
As I recall, Geary told how that when his daughter (or maybe it was his granddaughter) was young, she would wake up some mornings, come find him, crawl up in his lap, giving him a big hug, smile sweetly, and say, “Good morning. I love you.” He contrasted it with some mornings which happened less frequently on which she would wake up in a less than pleasant mood… not smiling… no hug given… no sweet tone in her voice… no crawling up in his lap… no “I love you.” He talked about how he loved those mornings when she would wake up with a smile and an “I love you” so much more than the ones when she woke up with a fussy disposition. It wasn’t that he loved her any less. That remained the same regardless of her attitude. But on the days when she gave him a wake-up smile and expressed her love first thing, it caused him to want to do more for her that day. It opened the door for them to be close that day.
Then he told of how the Lord had challenged him to wake up every morning, and before he even got out of bed, to give the Lord a wake-up smile and tell the Lord he loved him. As he began to do this, he noticed that the days he practiced this, he felt closer to the Lord, and things just seemed to go better.
Something about it caught my heart’s attention. I didn’t have kids at the time, so I had to believe his experience in faith. But I determined that I would do my best to wake up that way each day… giving the Lord a wake-up smile and telling Him how much I love Him before ever throwing back the covers and putting my feet onto the floor. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve missed plenty of days over the past 15 or so years since that service, but I’ve tried to make sure that the days with a wake-up smile for the Lord outnumber those without.And you know what? Geary Phillips was right. The days I begin with the Lord by giving Him a wake-up smile, a sweet attitude & an “I love You” are much better than the others. Those days are not always miraculous, but there is something about them which just seems… better.I have my own kids now, and our boys are old enough to get up on their own, finding their way to wherever we are in the morning… usually, I’m in my La-Z-Boy sipping coffee and eating peanut butter. And sure enough, when they come in with a sweet attitude, smile, crawl up in my lap (even though Alex is getting big enough I may have to sit in his lap soon), and tell me that they love me… I smile back, give them a big ol’ hug and kiss, and our day goes better because it started off right.This isn’t deep. This isn’t difficult. But it does make a difference when genuinely applied to our lives daily. So why don’t you take “The Wake-Up Smile Challenge” yourself? Why not start each day by waking up, and before you ever move… maybe before you even open your eyes… just smile and tell God you love Him. See if that doesn’t begin to make a change in the way you view Him… in how close you feel to Him… in the way your day goes.And here’s one more challenge… why not practice this with the people you love and see every day? It just might make things go a little differently with them as well!