Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sleepless Nights

(Note: The blog today speaks only to my own recent experience and what I know to be true in my life in a some specific areas. I do not want anyone to assume I am trivializing or spiritualizing insomnia. There are very real physical and emotional reasons for insomnia that require professional counsel. My point is not about insomnia, but about the larger faith issue of what I believe about God.)

Short night! I went to bed just as one day became the next and awakened at 2:30, a.m., not p.m.  A sip of water and a fluff of my downy pillow should have lulled me back to sleep, but such was not the case. Hour after hour, I lay quietly in the darkness mulling over some ‘just-won’t-go-away’ issues.

They aren’t deadlines, like the budget that’s ready to be submitted. They aren’t philosophical issues, like why church attendance in the United States is declining and how we can further God’s kingdom. They aren’t issues about what I need to read by Monday for a meeting, a survey to be compiled, video projects in the works, Sunday guests to assimilate, or the countless other items that reproduce like rabbits on my to-do list. They aren’t spiritually insightful issues, like praying for the persecuted church, the children living in poverty in this city, the upcoming outreaches for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

They aren’t even issues over which I have control. They don’t affect me directly, but they just won’t go away. So I wasted perfectly good hours of sleep, hours designed to restore my flagging spirits and to rejuvenate sagging body in pointless mental turmoil. 135 minutes, by my count, invested unwisely in trying to understand what cannot be understood and doesn’t really need to be understood by me. It was a pointless rumination.

If I should I relate this story in the days ahead—which I won’t—I can predict what a range of listeners would respond. Some will commiserate. After all, everyone has sleepless nights. The more prophetic voices will declare insomnia. They will remind me it is a symptom of aging and that I need to accept the repercussions of my advancing years. My husband will get that worried look and say I work too hard. My children will laugh it off and claim I never need much sleep. My mother will remind me of the disastrous consequences of lack of sleep and instruct me to make wise use of melatonin.

This morning, my heavenly Father had his say. I was driving along a busy street, my thoughts intent on my next destination, when a strong impression interrupted the mundane thoughts in my head. “Your problem is lack of trust.” I was too stricken to argue. I instantly recognized the wisdom of his diagnosis. My all-night contemplations had led me to conclude the impossibility of several situations. If I couldn’t figure them out, then they couldn’t be resolved. I had left no room for the God of the impossible to act.

God had neither requested nor appreciated the hours I spent trying to solve things already in his capable hands. His loves me, and he wants what’s best for me. He desires my rest. He himself modeled rest after creation. He gave up his Son so I could rest from my effort to earn salvation. He provided his Spirit so I could live continually resting in his goodness, his provision, and his protection.

Tonight I choose rest. If I fully trust in the God of my salvation, can sleep be far behind?

It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. Psalm 127:2 (NLT)

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8 (NLT)