42 Minutes Before Sunrise

August 11, 2018

Some of you may be wondering how I could have been on medical leave from work due to extreme sciatica pain, yet publish a couple of articles. Well, here’s how it happened.

Week before last’s article and this were dictated to my phone while lying flat on my back. (I also did a few small things for my work at the Chapel, again using my phone, on my back.) These are pretty good tools for modern times.

After dictating and cleaning up, I transferred these to the computer in my office. A few moments at a time, lying down or kneeling in between for pain relief, I added a few pictures and links. So now you know.

On with the story.

I found something fascinating in a book I have been reading called Radical Remission. It has to do with birds.

In the book there is a story about a Japanese man who overworked himself into a shambles of health. His name is Shin Terayama.

As is, or maybe used to be, common in their culture, he worked 12 to 15 hours a day. His career went great. He ended up as the president of his own consulting firm, whereupon his daily hours increased dramatically.

At age 46, he would be at meetings from 5 to 8 in the morning. The next three hours were given to visiting companies. In the afternoon he would talk to management of his firm. In the evening from 6 to 9 PM he talked to the staff then he returned to his office at 9 PM and worked until 2 AM to prepare for the next day. He did this every day!


With his body worn down, fatigue started to take over, and eventually he ended up with a grotesque case of cancer. He went through all the standard chemo and radiation operations.

Later he had a strange dream. He was lying in his coffin, looking at his own funeral. When the lid of the coffin closed, in his dream he returned to his body and shouted “I am still alive”.

With that incident something changed in Shin. For some reason, after that dream, he had an almost supernaturally strong sense of smell. He could not stand the odors in the hospital. One night he went out to the roof of the hospital so he could get some fresh air. It changed his whole outlook.

He left the hospital and left standard medical treatment. He was very sick when he made this choice.

When he got home from the hospital, he awoke before sunrise and was so grateful about being alive to see another day. He said “I am alive! Today is a new day!“.

He went to the rooftop of his apartment to see the sunrise on the eighth floor. He started making this a regular practice. Gradually he got better by doing this and many other things.

One day when Shin woke up before sunrise he noticed the birds were already singing, which made him curious. He wondered why and when they began to sing, so he got up 10 minutes earlier, then 20 minutes earlier. They were singing. 30 minutes earlier and they were singing.

Finally he got up one hour before sunrise and it was completely quiet. He timed it and when they started singing it was 42 minutes before sunrise. This happened every day. They were silent until 42 minutes before sunrise.

He was so intrigued by this he tried something with their pet birds who were usually shut in so they could sleep at night. He bought some oxygen from the pharmacy, and fed a little bit to those birds around midnight. They began chirping. He waited until 2:30 AM and did it again; the birds began singing. Next they began singing 42 minutes before sunrise and chirped continuously until the sun was up.

What in the world to make of this?

I am still thinking on it. But I sure like the phrase, “42 minutes before sunrise”. Somehow there is hope in that phrase.

First, it reminds me that God sees the little sparrow that falls to the ground. It speaks to me that He has creation dialed in, down to the smallest detail.

These birds, 42 minutes before sunrise, sense the flow of oxygen from photosynthesis that evidently begins before the sun is even up. Photosynthesis is a miracle in itself. Who can understand how that works?

But as soon as fresh oxygen starts flowing, birds sing their joy to the heavens. Shin found this so intriguing and amazing, he got up before sunrise many times to take in fresh oxygen for his lung cancer.

These little birds do not concern themselves with the question of whether the sun will actually rise. The first glimmer of light and the first breath of fresh oxygen, they jump right into it, making those melodies. Don’t worry, just sing.

This reminds me that I can sing praise to the heavens – to the God of heavens – before I actually see the sun for which I’m hoping. A little bit of light brings a great deal of hope.

This reminds me that God is the author of light, and in fact He is light himself. Light brings such energy, healing, and life. I exult in it. Every morning, we get notice, 42 minutes before sunrise, that the big orb is going to show up.


This speaks to me that we can rejoice before that for which we hope has been realized.

God‘s creation is well ordered. He upholds all things by the Word of His power. This should be a great comfort to everyone of us and cause us to sing joy and praise.

Do you see the glimmer of sunrise? Hang on and sing your rejoicing.

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