Have you ever had a thought explode in your mind that was so powerful, it stopped you dead in your tracks? That happened to me early this morning before my family was awake.

I was loading the dishwasher at about 5:30 A.M. Coffee was brewing. The house was eerily quiet. It felt like I was all alone in the world, even though my wife and kids were in their beds sleeping just a few feet away. What follows is the mental conversation I had with myself standing at the kitchen sink and the epiphany that stopped me cold where I stood.

“It sure is early. Nobody in their right mind gets up this early.” 

“You get up this early every day. You have for years. Think about all that extra sleep you’ve missed.” 

“But think about all that extra work you’ve done. You’ve accomplished a lot before 8 A.M. over the years.”

“You’ve written nine books by getting up early. It’s not really what time you wake up that counts, though. It’s how hard you work.” 

“Yeah you work pretty hard. Maybe too hard sometimes.”

“But you just turned in another manuscript yesterday. You wrote 45,000 words in two months. That feels pretty good.” 

“You’ve been working hard since you were in middle school. It feels good right now because of how hard you worked back then.”

“Right now is because of back then.”

Chills ran up and down my spine. The hair on my arms stood up. It was as if God Himself had come to stand beside me. It’s hard to explain, but I had a revelation that profoundly affected me, even though it was so simple and elementary — I had never thought of it in those terms.

Where I am right now is a result of what happened back then. When God saved me as a 14-year-old kid, His grace flooded my life. He called me to preach, opened doors for ministry and education and brought people into my life that would have great influence on the path I would take as a man. 

I was adopted into a strong Christian family when I was just a few days old.

I attended a Christian school and a solid church as a boy where I heard the gospel and learned about Jesus.

I had parents, coaches and Sunday school teachers that modeled hard work and excellence for me.

I had two amazing pastors who mentored me and gave me opportunities to preach as a kid.

I had a dad who made me get up early every day and work.

I studied hard and went to class and sat on the front row and turned in everything on time.

I learned self-discipline and I took responsibility for my actions, whether good or bad.

As I stood there at the sink, I reflected on the goodness of God in my life and I felt overwhelmed by emotion. 

Today my youngest son Joseph turns eight years old. 

We just celebrated our biggest Crossroads Summer Camp season in 18 years. 

I’ve seen over 2,000 people publicly respond to the gospel in the past two months. 

I just released my eighth book and turned in the manuscript for my ninth book … at age 40. 

Our ministry is in a season of blessing and favor unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s all by God’s grace.

And yet where I am right now is because of things I did back then. The work ethic, the decisions, the holy habits, the meticulous focus on Jesus … all those were instilled in me long before there were any of these blessings I have right now. 

Maybe you really want a season of “right now” but God is telling you that this is your season of “back then.” Do the hard work, get up early, sit in the front row, learn the lessons and rely on Jesus. Your “right now” is coming … but you need to be faithful to God right now to get to your “right now.” When you get there, you will stand at your kitchen sink dumbfounded at the goodness of God and you will remember the “back then” as you celebrate the “right now.”

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