I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. You have tried by heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. Psalms 16:7-8, 17:3
I don’t know about you but I feel like one of the greatest sacrifices I have ever made was sleep. It was not chocolate, coffee, or Netflix, it was sleep. I have always been a sleep needy person. I routinely went to bed by 11:00 PM in college. I often slept late on Saturdays. Less than eight hours of sleep at night resulted in a miserable twelve hour day for me and anyone close to me. I thrived best on nine to ten hours of sleep a night.
Oh to be young and single again!
These days I am lucky to get seven fairly decent hours of sleep a night. Dating a night owl was the first dent in my sleep armor. Staying up late to be with my sweetheart became the new norm for me. Marriage brought the next chink in my armor of slumber with the ending of my quiet uninterrupted night of sleep. The third fissure in my weakening armor protected sleep was motherhood. The cries of hungry infants and sick children wreaked havoc on my sleep cycle. Gone were the days of long stretches of deep undisturbed dream-filled sleep. Shallow, light, always listening sleep took up residence instead. Middle age brought the final blow to my ability to sleep well at night. Between night sweats, bathroom breaks and insomnia, I have come to the conclusion that eight hours of sleep at night is no longer a necessity, but a luxury reserved for vacations and illness.
I have spent many nights fighting against the invasions on my sleep by pounding my pillow, tossing and turning, letting out deep sighs, staring at a dark ceiling wishing for sleep to magically appear, I have wept quietly in my pillow pleading for just enough sleep to make it through the next day. My sleep battles were usually focused on regaining the ground that was being lost to awakenings. I didn’t think of the interruptions as divine appointments with God.
Our verses today tell us that God often speaks to us at night. He whispers into our hearts through our dreams at night. He awakens us with sudden thoughts of inspiration or words of conviction. He arouses us to pray for those who need us to intercede for them. There is something special about the night. Our most intimate conversations happen in the dark. The darkness of night frees us to share what we hide from each other during the day. We are most vulnerable at night. Nighttime makes us still. Nighttime heightens our senses. Nighttime makes us receptive. Nighttime is often when God speaks.
The question is will we listen? Will we stop fighting the interruptions of our sleep at night and embrace them instead? Will we re-frame those middle of the night disruptions into divine encounters? Will we use those moments of insomnia to make ourselves available to God for inspiration, conviction or intercession? Will we let God interrupt our sleep?
Maybe the sacrifice of sleep is actually a gift of worship offered up to God in the wee hours of the night.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.