Early Riser

Mike Sandefur | Oct. 25, 2022

Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 2:8

It’s just past 5:30am and my sleeping bag is nice and warm.

However, despite how much I desire to stay in that warm bag, it is time to get up.

Slowly, I make my way out of the bed of my friend’s pickup truck where I was sleeping, throw on some layers since the temp is hovering around 40 degrees, and begin making my way over to the main event area. It is the first weekend of October and I am at the American Alpine Club Craggin’ Classic at Smith Rock State Park, OR. While most of the rock climbers attending this weekend-long event are still sleeping, a group of us from Climbers for Christ are getting ready to cook breakfast.

Starting around 7:15 we will be serving up breakfast to well over 300 climbers and gear company vendors. Afterwards, I’ll squeeze in some climbing at the nearby cliffs, then, despite my desire for a nap, I’ll spend the afternoon and early evening helping out the event coordinators with various tasks like prepping for the auction and raffle that will take place after dinner.

You might wonder why?
Why sacrifice sleep?

It was just breakfast!

The reality is that it is a whole lot more than that. God has created each one of us with a unique set of talents and interests. And this combination of gifts from our creator influence far more than just our vocation. Each one of us has things we like to do, things we do for fun, or maybe they are things we do to express ourselves, such as art and music.

Have you ever stopped and considered why God made you like this?

I mean, we read these passages in the Bible that say God formed every part of us, that we were made for a purpose. And often, as I did for a long time, we simply look at what we will do for a vocation as the reason behind those passages. But frankly, work is only a part of our life and I am convinced that God is just as interested in how I use His gifts in all of it.


I have long had a passion for the outdoors. That has led me to lots of different outdoor pursuits and sports. And I am firmly convinced that this is not an accident or a whim. Jesus said that he came not to be served but to serve. (Matt. 20:28) Paul later wrote that we should honor God in everything we do. So the real question is how do I honor God and serve others through my love for the outdoors? While my first exposure to Climbers for Christ occurred while I was in seminary, it wasn’t until my kids were in middle school that I actually got involved. And it really started with serving. I showed up at a climbing event to help with registration, food prep, and to help cook a dinner. It was a great experience but not simply because of the opportunity to serve. What made it so amazing was the conversations that took place. Here were a group of people with a common love for the outdoors, actively involved in the climbing community, and despite the many concerns and hesitations about the Church they were open to friendly conversation. 

And that right there is really the point. Showing up and serving, while demonstrating obedience to Jesus, is not the purpose for being there. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8  Simply put, I get up way too early to make breakfast because I love my climbing community. These are people that over the years I have shared life with. It happens in big things like breakfast and in lots of small things each week. And through that sharing of life, demonstrating love through various opportunities including serving breakfast, I have had multiple opportunities to share the gospel. 

Every single one of us has a group of people that we share life with. It may be those you work with or it may be people who have the same hobbies or the same gym or the… you fill in the blank. In everything we do we cross paths with others that in that moment are sharing life with us to some degree. The real question is, how can I demonstrate the love of Jesus in those moments of shared life? It may be as simple as being a good friend. There are so many possibilities for us using the gifts God has given us, we just have to open our eyes to see the opportunities in both our work and our play.