I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I started writing this post at 2 am in my mind. Now its 4 am and I’m still awake trying to get the words out of my head. Its been one of those nights, perhaps you’ve been there yourself, where you wake up in the middle of the night for no explainable reason and can’t.fall.back.asleep.
Frustrated by tonight’s unwanted awakening, I turned to prayer.
Usually I start by praying for myself to fall back asleep (obviously). If this doesn’t work I go through my list of middle of the night prayer requests. I like to think that God wakes me up to pray for folks, especially my missionary friends in other time zones. While its the middle of the night here, its the middle of the afternoon somewhere else where my friends are doing the Lord’s work. I also spend these wakeful times praying for my friends who have shared with me their pain, or longing, or loss. If you have shared an intensely personal prayer request with me, I am usually praying for it in the wee hours.
After all my peeps are prayed for, I usually fall right back to sleep. But sometimes, like right now, I’ve prayed all I can pray, yet I remain annoyingly alert, anxiously awaiting my next sleep window.
I’d like to tell you that this is the point where I open my Bible and have amazing time in the word. In reality, if I am not asleep by now, I am more inclined to open my laptop (not my Bible) and catch up on blogs, tweets, pins and facebook statuses I follow.
Tonight, however, I didn’t open a Bible or a laptop. Tonight I lay awake listened.
Apparently the Holy Spirit was tired of trying to get my attention during normal business hours and decided to interrupt my sleep to get me to listen to some things he needed me to hear.
Truthfully, I needed to do some self reflection on some things I had been avoiding. I have been so focused on disciplining myself in terms of health and nutrition that I foolishly lost focus of the other areas in my life that require discipline; especially my mind.
Did I just say I am losing my mind? It is 4 am so perhaps I am. What I meant to say is that God woke me up to point out the glaringly obvious (in hindsight of course) fact that I have lost focus… on HIM.
In my well meaning, good intentioned attempt to become a disciplined person (In Jesus Name!!) I am nearly idolizing discipline. Ugh! So frustrating!
This was supposed to be an exercise in sacrifice to the LORD not a way for the enemy to trick me into worshiping something besides the LORD. Still, the more I focused on discipline, the less I focused on the source of my becoming and being disciplined: the inner work of the Holy Spirit!
Who am I to think that I am going to white-knuckle my way to discipline? I can’t make myself disciplined! Have I not said before, even here on the blog, that if I try to do this in my own strength I will fail? Well guess what folks, I’ve slipped back into the “doing it in my own strength” frame of mind, which then leads to the “wow, aren’t I something” frame of mind, which leads to an increasingly depraved mind – a mind I want nothing to do with!
It’s now 5:39 am and it took nearly 4 hours for me to get the message: stop trying so dang hard and start spending more time resting and meditating on the promises of God. Allow God’s Spirit to do the work only God can do: making me who he wants me to be, from the inside out, not the outside in.
Thank GOD that he gives us his Spirit, that still small voice that wakes us up at unforgiving hours and speaks to us deep inside of our souls, course correcting on our behalf, even before we realize our course has been compromised.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
No, I train my body and bring it under control. Then after I have preached to others, I myself will not break the rules and fail to win the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5