Monday, February 04, 2013
Today’s Topic: Sleepless Nights
Today’s Text: Psalm 119:147-148 (NIV) I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. 148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
I’m blessed to be able to sleep very soundly. I find that I don’t sleep for very long in that state, but it’s very restful. I fall asleep fast, sometimes in the middle of sentences, and I don’t move much for the first four hours. After that anything can happen. There are no guarantees of sound sleep after 2:30 AM.
Most of the time I’m able to go back to sleep right away, but if there’s been stress in my life my mind starts racing as it looks for solutions. Sleep comes harder then. Worry can set up a stronghold more powerful than caffeine.
I am convinced that if we took a poll of our friends and family we would discover that sleepless nights are common. We would also find that the cause of sleeplessness is also common – the cares of life. We literally spend hours each week lying awake at night thinking about how to fix life’s problems.
Worry is not always the problem. I also don’t sleep well when I am exciting about something I get to do the next day. It’s especially bad if that event starts early in the morning, like a summer fishing trip. I might as well not even go to bed the night before, because all night I will be looking at the clock wondering if it’s time to go yet. Enthusiasm is an equally powerful stimulant.
The Psalmist admits to sleepless nights caused by enthusiasm. His early morning wake-up calls and his middle-of-the-night ceiling stares have nothing to do with worry, but rather with the enjoyment of time with his Lord and Savior. He confesses that he needs help, but his sleeplessness is not cause by his own problem-solving efforts or ownership of the issue. Instead, every time an issue keeps him from sleeping, he turns to the Word of God in which he has placed his hope. He even proclaims that he intentionally uses the times his eyes open in the night to meditate on God’s promises.
I have discovered the incredible blessing of sleepless nights when my mind is at rest in Christ rather than racing to find solutions to problems. I have discovered the incredible strength that comes from God even when I have had less sleep because my hope is in Him.
Saturday night I went to bed confident of what God had given me to preach on the next day at church. I had determined that I would not go to bed early, as I typically do on Saturday nights, and that I would not rise extra early to spend more time in the Word. I was sure I could sleep in because I was prepared. Or so I thought.
At 4:45 AM my alarm went off. I had not set it. I had not intended to wake up at that time. As I quickly reached over and shut it off to reduce the risk that Denise would wake up, my very next thought was this- “What do you want, Lord? There must be a reason you want me up this early.” I argued with His answer for only one minute, and then rose, got dressed, and headed to the office to see what He had planned. As I drove I looked carefully for any opportunities along the way that He had prepared for me. There was nothing – no accidents, no hitchhikers, and no stranded motorists. There was nothing out of the ordinary at the convenience store when I got my coffee. As I drove the last few blocks to the office I wondered what He was going to show me.
When I arrived and opened up my notes for the sermon, the Holy Spirit clearly revealed that there was more He wanted me to know. So for the next two hours I did more research, more praying, and more writing. It was an incredible time with my Lord before the dawn. I hadn’t even cried for help, but He knew I needed it and woke me to fulfill His promise of constant care for me.
As I reflect back on that early morning I now understand what the Psalmist means when he says his hope is in God’s Word and he meditates on His promises. Not once on Sunday – not early in the morning nor mid-afternoon nor early evening – did I ever feel tired or regret having been awakened by the Lord. It was especially significant to me that after being awakened, every thought of my mind was focused on what God’s purpose was for getting my attention. It was truly a time of walking fully in the Spirit of God.
How about you? What causes your sleepless nights, and what do you do with your time?