Or will this ever go away?
Through the past twenty-five or so years, I’ve been awake at this hour for two to four nights a week. Not sure what started it. Depression, stress, work, parenting, caring for aging parent… all of them played a role in its inception. I have no problems going to sleep, but somewhere in the middle of what should be a good night’s sleep I am regularly awakened and can not go back to sleep. It’s at this time of night those things that were in the back of my mind are now in the forefront and I begin to rummage through them over and over again. They keep playing in my head like a bad spot on a record that my brain must go to at that hour when I have nothing better to do than sleep. Because of this, “praying without ceasing” became very personal.
Initially, because I didn’t want to disturb the rest of the house, I would try to read a book. Then I worked on my Bible Study, which melted into prayer, and then into pleading, and finally into begging God for the help I so badly wanted and thought I needed. At times I would curl up on the couch, then progress to my knees, and when it was really bad I would eventually be prostrate on the floor at the foot of the Throne begging Him to fix the things in my life that “weren’t right”.
It’s hard to cry silently in the middle of the night.
I spent most of those nights begging to understand my grandmother/mother. To be able to communicate with her on the same plane of existence, asking what it was I was supposed to glean from the garbage I had to wade through with her. On other nights, I begged Him to fix her, fix me, fix the situation, take her (oh yes, I did), take me, or take the situation away- out of my hands. In the middle of the muddle I couldn’t even grasp with my heart that it was always out of my hands.
It has been said that the Lord answers every request and that His answers are one of three possible: Yes, No, Wait. (Yes, I really heard this in a church). I think that this short explanation could demean what prayer really is to me and could lead me down the path of “What’s behind door #3? Yes? No? Wait?”
Was God was saying yes, no, or wait? Out of the pain of life with her, in those sleepless nights, I went to the Word frequently seeking for answers. And then… right there, Smack dab in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke these words and they became engraved on my heart, in my eyes, and in my soul- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
There’s a progression in those verses: we are told to ask, to seek, and to knock; and that everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds, and when one knocks the door is opened. Am I willing to ask, seek and knock? Am I willing to take what I receive, accept what I find, and go through the door that is open before me?
Jesus continues, saying that the Father will give good gifts to those who ask Him. (v11)
He was saying “Yes.”
What was I asking for in the middle of those long, long nights? In retrospect, I realize that all I wanted was relief from the pain. I didn’t want His “Yes” nor did I want His good gifts. I had an “are we there yet?” mentality. I moaned, like Job- how long? Like Hannah, I was sad, grieving for something I didn’t have. Like Jonah, I sometimes felt like it would be better if I died. Like the teacher, I would throw up my hands and exclaim “meaningless!” But God (yeah, there it is) was willing to give me “good gifts”. He had already said, “Yes!” I just didn’t hear it, see it, or feel it.
So, I continued wandering around in my own Sinai. Begging and pleading for Him to fix my life using my definition of fix. He must have shaken His head over and over, listening to me act like a beggar in the street instead of the child of the King. I am only now getting that it was a matter of trust.
I said in the previous posts, prayer is extending my trust to Him and to His Will.
In those moments, I didn’t trust Him to give me good gifts. I was saying, “My will is better for me than accepting Your Will.” The truth here is this: bringing me through that part of my life to come out safe on the other side (prepared to do the work He has for me to do) and to truly trust Him more than I trust myself were the good gifts.
Dear Ones, trust Him. Trust His Will. Trust Him for the good gifts He is willing to give you. Ask. Seek. Knock.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
See you at 7 on Monday Morning!