The past week it is all over the news. Some stores will stay open on Thanksgiving. Some are closing for family time. But all will open early for Black Friday. That is the traditional day for the start of Christmas shopping and to find huge deals on what you want to buy, and even for things you may not want to purchase but just cannot resist the great deal.
I know, I have read all the stories that actually you do not get the best deal on Black Friday. All you need to do is wait a couple of days or a week and the price goes down. I also know that a good share of the purchasing is now done online, which necessitated another day called Cyber Monday, which means you can comfortably wait online instead of getting up oh so early and fighting traffic.
To be honest, in 42 years of marriage, there have been a few times I woke up early on Black Friday to purchase that one item too good to pass up. Was it always worth the early hour and the wait? For that one item I would say yes, although that experience did not start a tradition for me.
Actually the Friday after Thanksgiving being designated as the start of the Christmas shopping began in 1932. From the reading I have done, it was not until 1961 in Philadelphia that the day was actually first called Black Friday. At that time the term described the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. I also read that merchants called it Black Friday because of the huge profits but were afraid that consumers would be offended. Well I guess that fear is long gone.
But let’s not think the practice of getting up before the sun to seek out the best of deals began here in the U.S. A lot earlier than 1932, somewhere between the 10th and 6th century B.C., and recorded in the Bible, Solomon pointed to rising early to pursue things in life as a benefit. In Proverbs 31 we read in verse 15: She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family. And again in verse 18: She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
So, rolling out of bed a little, or a lot, earlier, to gain an advantage is not necessarily a bad or foolish practice. Maybe those who do not buy into the whole Black Friday experience are soured by all the hype that comes along with the day after Thanksgiving activity. In fact, as I look farther into the Bible, even Jesus had the habit of rising early in the morning. His purpose was much different.
In Mark 1:35 it says Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. If anyone had a full schedule it was Jesus. The toll on his human body must have been tremendous as he spent his time readying his disciples for their mission once he left them. The knowledge of his coming, suffering, and death would be a heavy burden for him to carry around for 33 years. I would think that sleep was a welcome relief for him.
Yet, he got up early, while it was still dark to spend time with his Heavenly Father to pray. It was a priority, no, a necessity for him. Jesus knew from where his strength came. He knew he needed that time to ready himself for not only that day, but also for what was to come.
I know I am going out on a limb here as I am drawing some conclusions in the paragraphs above. However, the example is there for me. More importantly, because Jesus gave up heaven, became a human, and suffered the punishment for my sins, why wouldn’t I set aside time to spend with him? I am talking about priority time spent praising him for his love, confessing my sins to him and pleading for forgiveness; and asking him for guidance in the coming day.
The older I get the less sleep I seem to need. Sometimes, waking up early is a result of my drifting off on the couch the night before. But even when I do not take my pre-sleep nap, I find that morning just comes earlier. While I may spend the time doing other things, I do know that it seems a little fruitless if I do not seek out that one thing I most need, time with my Savior.
In not too many days, the advertisements will trumpet the never-seen-before deals to be found if you stay up late or get up so early for the Black Friday weekend. And many will make sure they are prepared to be one of the first to take advantage of both the sales and the whole experience. I hope that those of you who brave the crowds find it worthwhile.
Black Friday ushers in a busy time of the year. Choices and setting priorities are important as schedules are devised to allow for fitting everything in. The theologian Martin Luther is credited with saying “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer. ” I pray that is such a priority for me.
Hope you can find the time to come back. I will wait you.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life Psalm 143:8