That's what happened to me last night. Life caught up and I spent one of those miserable, mid-life, sleepless nights.
- The kind of night where you will your tired mind to stop churning.
- You shift to a more comfortable position. Repeatedly.
- You try to breathe in rhythm with your peacefully snoring husband.
- You pray for everyone you know. And a few you don't.
- You get up and wander around the house a while.
- You read.
- You get back into the bed and stare forlornly at the ceiling.
- You elbow your husband because he's snoring and you're wide awake!
Many of my friends describe having difficulty falling asleep at night. (Thankfully, that's never been a problem for me as long as I limit the things I mentioned above.) In fact, devotions have to occur rather quickly when Frank and I turn in for the night, or he'll be saying, "Amen!" all alone.
He says I start out with a quiet little purring sound. That's the cue for him to go to sleep quickly; before my purring can turn into the full-on sounds made by freight trains and fog horns.
I feel sure he exaggerates!
It's not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. But getting there in the first place is rarely ever a problem. Until last night.
While pondering life in the way we do between 1 AM and 3 AM, I came to a few conclusions. We've had several weeks of walking with people experiencing tragic loss. One of my dearest friends received a difficult medical report. There were a couple of unexpected announcements that jolted us. Dad's wedding required some serious emotional adjustment. And all those things take time to process.
Difficulties arise when we just keep rolling from one situation into the next; expecting our beleaguered souls to keep pace. Eventually, we all have to sit down for a moment and breathe.
I've told this story before but it bears repeating.
A missionary to Africa felt called to reach a particular village no one had attempted to visit because of its remote and dangerous location. He engaged the services of several top guides and native travelers; all accustomed to the terrain and climate.
This man took on the challenge of reaching the village with great fervor. He headed out; determined to bring Good News to those waiting people.
The group trekked for three days; pushing ever deeper into the jungle. Machetes and small hatchets were the only tools that could clear a space big enough for the single-file line of brave explorers.
Dawn arrived the fourth morning and the missionary came out of his tent ready to hit the trail again. Surely they were close now!
But he stopped in his tracks as he looked over the campsite. Absolutely no one appeared ready to advance. The entire band of guides and assistants were all lounging around the campfire. Instead of gearing up, they were chatting and laughing quietly.
The missionary approached the leader and asked, with much irritation, what exactly was happening. Didn't they realize they were wasting valuable travel time? The sun would be fully beating down on them in just a few hours. It was time to get moving!
"Ah, dear friend," the guide patiently intoned. "We have been traveling for three days. We've moved rapidly through the jungle. Today we must wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies!"
Not sure if you've found yourself there lately or not. But it certainly is a great story to tuck away for use at some point in the future.
I originally posted this without the proper conclusion and I regret that deeply. While teaching English I often harped on the importance of leaving the reader with a good conclusion. Well, here it is -
Another book that I read annually gave me a better ending for this post. The writer's name is Mark and he tells about an experience he had as a teen-aged boy. "Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.' Then he climbed into the (storm tossed) boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed." The extra passenger was, of course, Jesus.
The storm may be howling all around. But I choose to stop flailing. I'll quiet my heart and invite Jesus into the boat. Only HE can calm the storm. Time with Him provides courage. He silences fear.
And He always leaves me standing absolutely amazed!
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