One of the things I love about life is that there’s never a point you reach where every duck is in a row and you’ve mastered this thing called living. Of course, the same is true, on an even grander scale, where our faith is concerned, as the more you learn about God the more you realise you have yet to learn…..
But on a practical level, things change and develop in our lives, don’t they? Unless you’re in a rut…. ( 🙁 – someone once described a rut as a coffin with the ends knocked out…), you change, things change. Many of you know that sleeping wasn’t a ‘friend’ of mine for much of my life: I’d always been dead envious of people who could put their head on a pillow and go straight to sleep. For those of us who can’t, it’s not always a blessing to hear that! BUT…. like I realised, when I first came to Ireland, that I actually had no real idea how to rest, and have asked God to show me – He has! – so the same has happened with sleep.
Until the odd physical issue slowed me down a bit, I was constantly ‘on the go’…. when I came here, under ‘instruction’ to rest and relax, from those I listen to, or I’d be dead (not just emotionally, but physically… and I knew that was right, I was pretty close to burn-out after the ‘initial’ US immigration saga. I’d sit down, put on a video, or watch some sport on tv – and after 5 minutes, pause it, and go and do something….then watch 5 minutes, pause it…well, you’ve got the message! For me, then, it was a blessing to have the pause facility on live tv, as I could pause football or cricket! Gradually, though, asking God to teach me – I needed to be taught! – relaxing and resting between trips became a pleasure.
Apart from tonight (!) – which is unusual now – my sleep patterns have changed too, in the past 6 months, after 50 years of fighting sleep, going to bed later and later in the hope that I might sleep. It wasn’t, then, unusual for me to go to bed at 3 am, and still be lying awake at 5am… so I’d end up with about 3 hours sleep. My body learned to function on that (Maggie Thatcher, it used to be reported, only needed 2-4 hours a night ever), and my body got into that routine. Maybe once every couple of months I’d ‘pull a 6 hour night’, but it was rare. Praying into that, big time, a few months back, has changed that. Yeah, ok, I’m up now, its 5.15 am: BUT, I did stop watching tv at about 9.45 pm last night, and head for bed. Bed at 10 pm?? Man alive, that’s revolutionary…. I know NOW, too, that when I go back to bed, I’ll sleep again.
I would love to encourage non-sleepers that it CAN change: non ‘resters/relaxers’ that it can change….and when it does, it’s such a blessing. I LOVE bed now, whereas before it was a necessary evil! When I can, I don’t set an alarm any-more, either: and I live on a busy road, a main road between Belfast and Bangor, so it’s hardly ‘quiet’ at any time of the day or night, and just the other side of the road is the main Belfast-Bangor railway line….God DOES answer prayer, especially for practical issues that are part of his created plan for us…. ‘In repentance and rest, is our salvation, In quietness and trust is our strength’ (Isaiah 30:15): ‘In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves.’ (Psalm 127:2.
Until recently, those were ‘proof’ texts I’d pray for people who’d come forward for prayer saying that they couldn’t sleep, their minds always on the ‘go’ – and while praying, say, as I often say to God, ‘God….don’t forget me in that one!’. He hasn’t….he won’t forget you, either.